Hispanics and the New Administration: Immigration Slips as a Top Priority

  • January 15, 2009
  • By Mark Hugo Lopez and Gretchen Livingston

A year and a half after a lengthy, often rancorous debate over immigration reform filled the chambers of a stalemated Congress, the issue appears to have receded in importance among one of the groups most affected by it—Latinos. Only three in ten (31%) Latinos rate immigration as an "extremely important" issue facing the incoming Obama administration, placing it sixth on a list of seven policy priorities that respondents were asked to assess in a nationwide survey of 1,540 Latino adults conducted from November 11 through November 30, 2008, by the Pew Hispanic Center. The top-rated issue among Latinos is the economy; 57% of Hispanics say it is an "extremely important" one for the new president to address.

Looking forward, Hispanics are optimistic about the incoming Barack Obama Administration. More than seven in ten (72%) say they expect Obama to have a successful first term. Looking back, Latinos offer a negative assessment of the outgoing Bush Administration. More than half (54%) of Latinos say that the failures of the Bush Administration will outweigh its successes. In comparison, 64% of the U.S. general population holds the same view.

The latest report from the Pew Hispanic Center also examines the ways Latinos were involved in the 2008 election. According to the survey, almost three-fourths (74%) of Latinos say they were more interested in last year's presidential election than in the 2004 election. Latino voters were more than twice as likely as voters in the general population to be first-time voters—21% versus 8%. Among Latino voters ages 18-29, 47% were first-time voters.

Read the full report Hispanics and the New Administration: Immigration Slips as a Top Priority on the Pew Hispanic Center's Web site.