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Pew polls: surge in deportations the top concern among immigrants

Two surveys just released by the Pew Research Center found that the recent surge in the deportation of undocumented immigrants is the issue closest to most immigrants’ hearts, even above a realistic path to U.S. citizenship. Pew researchers polled two groups of authorized U.S. immigrants, one made up of Hispanics and one targeting Asian immigrants. The two groups represent about two-thirds of all lawful immigrants currently in the U.S.

Although the margins varied, deportations were the top issue for both groups. Among the Hispanic respondents, 55 percent felt the nation’s highest immigration priority should be allowing unauthorized immigrants to live and work in peace, without the constant threat of deportation. 46 percent of the Hispanics also reported being either “very” or “somewhat” concerned that they, a close friend or relative might be deported.

Among the Asian participants, 49 percent named reducing deportation risk as our top priority; a larger percentage than chose any other issue.

The second-most-important issue was also clear from the survey results: access to U.S. citizenship. 35 percent of the Hispanics surveyed chose a path to citizenship as the issue most important to them, while 44 percent of the Asian respondents did.

Politicians may want to take note that fully 89 percent of the Hispanics surveyed said they unconditionally support the immigration reform proposal currently before the Senate, and that both groups agreed passing immigration reform this year is “important.”

Should the law not pass in the House, blame would fall more heavily on Republicans, although 34 percent of the Hispanic respondents would blame Democrats or President Obama. This may reflect widespread disapproval of the Obama Administration’s harsh deportation record. Since 2009, around 400,000 people have been deported every year, far more than under previous administrations.

The flood of deportations could be slowing down, however, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Also, the nation’s recently-confirmed National Security Advisor has made his opposition to deportation quotas clear.

Alot is at stake for people and families of all stripes when they’re threatened with deportation for any reason. People are jailed in deportation centers. Rights are violated. Families are shattered and separated indefinitely. The time for an immigration system that is both more just and more merciful is now.

Source: Hispanically Speaking News, “Immigrants Focus on Deportation Concerns Over Citizenship,” Dec. 20, 2013

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