WASHINGTON (AP) — More than half of Hispanic immigrants who were neither born in the United States nor have a permanent resident card said they were concerned about their place in the United States, even before the Trump administration made clear its intentions to aggressively crack down on illegal immigration, according to a Pew Research Center survey released Thursday.
The survey, taken in December and January, showed that 55 percent of Hispanics surveyed who were foreign born and neither U.S. citizens nor legal residents — a group Pew said was the most likely to be in the country without authorization — said they had serious concerns about their place in America after President Donald Trump's election. Their concerns were shared by 49 percent of Hispanic lawful permanent residents.
But that number changed significantly for Hispanics who are born in the United States or naturalized U.S. citizens. Fifty-nine percent of U.S.-born Hispanics said they were confident about their place in America, along with 60 percent of those U.S. citizens who were foreign-born.
"Those who are most concerned are those at most risk for deportation, people who don't have U.S. citizenship," said Mark Hugo Lopez, Pew's director of Hispanic research. "Among U.S. born Hispanics, most are confident about their place in America after Donald Trump's election."
Overall, about half — or 49 percent — of Hispanics in the United States say they are confident about their place in America. The same percentage said the situation for Hispanics at the end of 2016 and in the first month of 2017 was about the same as it was a year ago under then-President Barack Obama.
All of this was before the Trump administration this month announced its policy of making an enforcement priority any immigrant in the country illegally who is charged or convicted of any offense, or even suspected of a crime. That could include people arrested for shoplifting or minor offenses — or simply having crossed the border illegally. The Trump administration memos replace narrower guidance focusing on immigrants who have been convicted of serious crimes, are considered threats to national security have recently crossed the border illegally.
Before those actions, Hispanics in the United States were split on deportation.
Fifty-two percent of Hispanic adults — regardless of immigration status — said they worried "not at all" or "not much" about the deportation of themselves, a family member or a close friend. But 47 percent also said they worry "a lot" or "some" that they or someone they know will be deported.
Lopez said those numbers could be changing.
"While it's not much different from what we've seen in the past with surveys we've done on Hispanics, we would need to remeasure this given what's happened in the last few weeks," he said.
About 40 percent of Hispanics in the survey said before Trump's inauguration that they thought he would be a terrible or poor president, with 24 percent saying terrible and 15 percent saying poor. A little more than a fifth, or 22 percent, said they thought he would be a good or great president, with 16 percent saying good and 6 percent saying great. Twenty-eight percent said he would be average.
The bilingual telephone survey of 1,001 Hispanic adults was conducted from Dec. 7, 2016, through Jan. 15, 2017. The survey's margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.