Poll: Supreme Court ruling on Arizona immigration may alienate Latino voters

Sixty percent of Latino voters polled in five battleground states said a Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Arizona immigration law would contribute to a hostile environment for immigrants and Latinos.

Gary Cameron/REUTERS/File
Mark Jenkins (L), an opponent of Arizona Senate Bill 1070 and Blake Sutherland, a supporter of the bill, discuss their opposite viewpoints outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington in this April 25 file photo.

If the US Supreme Court upholds Arizona’s tough anti-illegal-immigration law this week, a majority of Latino voters in five battleground states believe the ruling will contribute to an “anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic environment” in the United States, according to a new poll.

And that, in turn, could benefit Democrats, who are perceived as better than Republicans at reaching out to Latinos, according to the Latino Decisions polling group.

The Obama administration sued Arizona over its 2010 immigration law, known as SB 1070, which requires police to check the immigration status of people they stop for other reasons. Critics say the law could result in racial profiling, even though the law bans the practice. The high court could issue its ruling Monday.

Latino Decisions polled Latino voters in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, and Virginia – all of which have significant Latino populations and, with the exception of Republican-leaning Arizona, are seen as swing states in the November presidential race. In the poll, 60 percent said a ruling in favor of the Arizona law would contribute to a hostile environment for immigrants and Latinos, while 28 percent said upholding the law would have no effect.

“Even though the Arizona law claims to only target undocumented immigrants, the survey results show that a clear majority of US citizen Latinos who are registered to vote are also concerned about the implications of the law being upheld,” according to the report by Latino Decisions/America's Voice.  

In all the states except Florida, a majority of Latino voters said they personally know someone who is undocumented, including 11 percent who said someone in their family is undocumented. Florida’s Latino population is dominated by people of Cuban descent, who do not face the immigration status issues of those from Mexico and other Latin American countries.

In Arizona, 65 percent of Latino voters said a Supreme Court decision upholding its anti-illegal-immigration law would create a more hostile environment toward Latinos and immigrants in their state. In neighboring Nevada, the percent holding that view was just as high. In Virginia and Florida, it was 58 percent, and in Colorado, 56 percent.

In Nevada, 74 percent of Latino voters said they know an undocumented immigrant, and 41 percent said they know someone who has faced immigration proceedings – the highest percentages of the five states.  

The poll was taken between June 12 and 21 and interviewed 400 Latino voters in each state. In results from the poll released last Thursday, the survey found that President Obama leads Mitt Romney 63 percent to 27 percent in the five states. But just as important for Mr. Obama, 60 percent of the respondents now describe themselves as “very enthusiastic” about voting in November, an increase from earlier this year. That growth in enthusiasm followed Obama’s decision to stop deporting some young undocumented immigrants.

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