Friday, April 30, 2010

Hispanics and Arizona's New Immigration Law

Arizona last week passed a law authorizing local police to check the immigration status of anyone they reasonably suspect of being in the United States illegally.1 The law has generated sharp debate between advocates who say it is needed to combat illegal immigration and opponents who say it is an infringement on civil liberties and an invitation to racial/ethnic profiling of Hispanics by the police. In addition, some say the law will create tensions between police and Hispanics that will hinder general law enforcement.

Below are a set of recent findings from the Pew Research Center and Pew Hispanic Center that provide background on a range of issues raised by the new Arizona law. The findings are drawn mainly from nationwide surveys conducted in 2008 and 2009.

-- Americans see Hispanics as the racial/ethnic group most often subjected to discrimination.

A 2009 survey by the Pew Research Center found that nearly one-in-four (23%) Americans said Hispanics are discriminated against "a lot" in society today, a share higher than observed for any other group. This represents a change from 2001, when blacks were seen as the racial/ethnic group discriminated against the most in society. Then, one-in-four (25%) Americans said blacks were discriminated against "a lot," while 19% said the same about Hispanics.

For the full publication by the Pew Hispanic Center, click here.