A survey of nearly 5,000 Mexican migrants who were interviewed while applying for identity cards at Mexican consulates in the United States has found that an overwhelming majority would vote in Mexican elections scheduled for next year if they had the opportunity. The Mexican Congress is now debating a proposal that would permit absentee voting by Mexicans living outside the country for the first time.
Nearly nine out of ten (87%) respondents said they would vote in the next Mexican elections if they could, and the sentiment carried in near equal measure across every demographic, socio-economic and geographic category except for age. Older respondents were somewhat more likely than younger voters to say they wanted to vote in the elections.
A key issue in the congressional debate in Mexico is whether to permit voting only by migrants who already hold a valid voting credential issued in Mexico or whether to issue credentials in the United States. In the survey sample, 42 percent of the respondents said they had brought their voting credential with them to the United States. Respondents who have arrived in the United States more recently are more likely to have a voting credential with them than those who have been here longer. For example, 64 percent of respondents who have been in the United States for two years or less said they have the credential with them, compared with 29 percent of those who have been in the country for more than 15 years.
The Pew Hispanic Center's Survey of Mexican Migrants provides detailed information on the demographic characteristics, living arrangements, work experiences and attitudes toward immigration of 4,836 Mexican adults who completed a 12-page questionnaire as they were applying for a matrícula consular, an identity document issued by Mexican consulates. Fieldwork was conducted in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Raleigh, NC, and Fresno, CA, from July 12, 2004, to Jan. 28, 2005.
The sampling strategy for the survey was designed to generate the maximum number of observations of Mexicans living in the United States and seeking documentation of their identity at a Mexican consulate. Respondents were not asked directly to specify their immigration status. However, slightly more than half of the respondents (N=2,566) said that they did not have any form of photo ID issued by any government agency in the United States. The share of respondents saying they had no U.S.-issued identity documents was much higher among the more recently arrived--80 percent among those in the country for two years or less and 75 percent for those in the country for five years or less.
This is the second in a series of reports on the survey's findings. The first report examined attitudes towards immigration and major demographic characteristics. Subsequent reports will examine a variety of topics in detail, including the migrants' their employment and economic status, banking and remittances, and gender and family structure. The full dataset of survey responses will be made available to researchers on Sept. 1, 2005, through the Pew Hispanic Center Web site (www.pewhispanic.org).
Major findings in this report include: