Poll: Pa. voters back Dreamers; path to citizenship for the undocumented | Thursday Morning Coffee

Voters in nine battleground states back pro-immigrant policies, oppose nativist messaging 

By: - September 8, 2022 7:11 am

An asylum-seeking woman from Mexico leads a protest in Nogales, Sonora in February 2021 demanding President Joe Biden restore the processing of asylum cases. On Nov. 8, 2021, migrants in Nogales continue to demand the Biden administration discontinue its expulsion policy under Title 42 that prevents adults and children from seeking asylum protections in the U.S. (Photo courtesy Kino Border Initiative)

The growing political clout of Pennsylvania’s thriving Latino community is already well-documented.

And as we move into the thick of the midterm campaign season, it’s also becoming abundantly clear that Latino voters, a diverse coalition whose loyalties can’t be taken for granted, also are discovering — and using — their voices to speak up on a host of issues.

A recent poll of voters in nine battleground states, including Pennsylvania, provides further clarification of those priorities, with strong majorities saying Congress should move to protect Dreamers if a federal court overturns the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and move to stabilize the nation’s agricultural workforce to help stem rising food prices.

The poll by Hart Research Associates and BSP Research also shows that, despite Republican attempts to use immigration challenges against Democrats this campaign season, voter support for reform issues has not been blunted.

Seven in 10 of all respondents, including 82 percent of Latino voters, three-quarters of swing voters (76 percent) and independents (74 percent) agree with Democratic-backed arguments that undocumented immigrants should be provided a path to citizenship.

That evidence of that strength of sentiment among Latino voters is clear in the numbers. Half of all Latino respondents told pollsters that they personally know someone who is undocumented. And for nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of Latino voters, it is a family member who is undocumented, pollsters said.  

“The key to Democrats winning the debate on immigration is not silence, it’s holding Republican politicians accountable for an extreme agenda that is out of step with Americans,” Sergio Gonzales, the executive director of the advocacy group the Immigration Hub, which commissioned the poll, along with the Service Employees International Union, said in a statement.

Pollsters sampled the opinions of 1618 likely voters spread across battleground congressional districts and states with U.S. Senate contests between late July and early August.

Voters in Pennsylvania’s Bucks County-based 1st Congressional District, the 7th and 8th Congressional Districts in the Lehigh Valley and northeastern Pennsylvania, and the 17th District in southwestern Pennsylvania, were interviewed for the poll. The sample also includes 800 likely Latino voters who were interviewed online and by telephone.

Yuma, Ariz. -- Discarded shoes lie in the dirt at a vehicle barrier which serves as the U.S.-Mexico border fence on 12/10/21 (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images).
Yuma, Ariz. — Discarded shoes lie in the dirt at a vehicle barrier which serves as the U.S.-Mexico border fence on 12/10/21 (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images).

The poll confirms what’s already widely known: That Democrats are vulnerable to Republican attacks on issues of border security.

Some one million undocumented immigrants have been temporarily allowed into the country while their cases are adjudicated, the New York Times reported Tuesday. That cohort is separate from the thousands who illegally entered the country early in President Joe Biden’s term, the newspaper reported.

The poll, however, finds that if Democrats successfully hone their messaging, it’s possible for them to deflect those Republican attacks. But as advocates made clear last month, Latino voters in the Keystone State are deeply skeptical and won’t easily hand over their support.

“Latino voters are not apathetic, but they are unconvinced,” Rafael Collazo, of the advocacy group UnidosUS, told reporters during a press call last month that painted a pretty stark picture of the outreach gap by the Big Two parties.

Still, overall polling data shows a lean toward Democrats among Latino voters, who say they’re turned off by Republican xenophobia, providing Democrats with an opening as Election Day closes in.

“Voters in key battleground states, including swing and Latino voters, not only reject the GOP’s extreme anti-immigrant agenda, but they continue to strongly support pro-immigrant solutions, including protecting our nation’s Dreamers, farm workers, [Temporary Protected Status] holders and undocumented immigrants,” Gonzales said.

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John L. Micek
John L. Micek

A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press.