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Report Shows Foreign-Born Citizens Are More Socially Conservative Than Their Native-Born Counterparts and Are Less Likely to Identify with Either Political Party


Ryan Williams, New American Economy, [email protected]
Yohana de la Torre, The Latino Coalition, [email protected], 239-896-4695
Kate Bryan, American Principles Project, 202-503-2010
Brian Faughnan, The LIBRE Initiative, [email protected], 703-678-4581

 New American Economy Kicks off Hispanic Engagement Campaign with National Media Call Featuring Conservative Hispanic Leaders

New York, NY — Today, the New American Economy (NAE), The Latino Coalition, and the American Principles in Action Latino Partnership released a new report analyzing the social and political views held by the 18.6 million immigrant citizens in America. The report, “Shared Values: How Immigrants Align with the Republican and Democratic Parties on Social Values Issues,” suggests that neither political party can take the immigrant vote for granted. Fifty percent of foreign-born voters do not identify with either political party. For those who do identify with a political party, many skew more conservative than their native-born counterparts. Among those who identify as Democrats, 24 percent hold conservative views, as opposed to 11 percent of U.S.-born Democrats.

“The conventional wisdom is that immigrant voters will only favor Democratic candidates, but the reality is these voters are very much up for grabs,” said John Feinblatt, Chairman of New American Economy. “Our findings show that immigrant voters hold a diverse set of views and looking ahead to the 2016 election it is imperative that candidates and parties on both sides of the aisle appeal to this growing and politically unaffiliated population.”

In addition to releasing the study, NAE also announced the launch of a coalition of conservative Hispanic leaders in support of immigration reform.

“The Latino Coalition is proud to join the PNAE, The LIBRE Initiative and American Principles in Action Latino Partnership in support of immigration reform,” said Hector Barreto, Chairman of The Latino Coalition and former U.S. Small Business Administrator. “It is widely accepted that common-sense immigration reform is needed. This will provide for a more secure America, a fair and streamlined system of legal immigration and an expansion of economic growth. This report shows that immigrants have a diverse set of views with regards to political party, religious values and the future of our country. That is why we continue to advocate for sensible immigration reform that will inspire and protect the American Dream. We are confident that this approach will return the United States back to the growth and prosperity that we all desire.”

“It’s absurd to say that immigrants are guaranteed Democratic voters. That’s a myth put forward by restrictionist groups to try to convince Republicans not to act on immigration reform. As this study shows, immigrants are very conservative and I’m sure that if Republicans engage them they will respond favorably to their message. In fact, the only reason many of them now tend to vote Democratic is that the GOP hasn’t effectively and consistently reached out to them. Republicans should stop listening to the nonsense advanced by anti-reform groups and work to pass sensible immigration reform in the new Congress,” said Alfonso Aguilar, Executive Director of the American Principles in Action Latino Partnership and former Chief of the U.S. Office of Citizenship in the George W. Bush administration. 

“This report underscores what many of us have known all along; Latinos are not a monolithic group. Even beyond social issues, we know that Latino immigrants espouse a variety of conservative views. Many are deeply committed to the principles of economic freedom, such as a limited government, free markets, and equal opportunity, that we at The LIBRE Initiative are dedicated to advancing. No party and no candidate should make the mistake of assuming that Latino support will be automatically granted once bipartisan immigration reform is achieved. Rather, we support immigration reform because of its ability to enhance the profound impact that the Latino community’s diverse range of views and priorities will have on America’s economy, culture, and political life,” said Daniel Garza, Executive Director of The LIBRE Initiative.

“January 5, 2015…the start of the 114th Congress marks a unique starting point for the debate and passage of a comprehensive immigration bill that will finally address the many pressing concerns facing our country. Americans elected new leadership in Washington, DC to hopefully end the gridlock. Now is the time for problem solvers to act on immigration, and I look forward to continuing to work with this coalition to see that through,” said Al Cardenas, former Chairman of the American Conservative Union and Senior Partner at Squire Patton Boggs LLP.

“The misnomer is if we bring in all of these Latino voters, they will all vote Democrat – but this group of Republican Latino leaders is proof that is simply not the case…we need immigration reform, and it needs to be a legislative solution. It is crucial that Congress comes together to once and for all fix our broken immigration system. Our economy needs it, and our people deserve that,” said Rosario Marin, 41st Treasurer of the United States under President George W. Bush.

Report Key Findings

  • Immigrants have low levels of party affiliation. Among immigrants who are eligible to vote, a full half, or 50 percent, report not identifying with either of the two major U.S. political parties. For recent Hispanic immigrants—those who have been in the United States fewer than 15 years—62 percent do not identify with either party.
  • Immigrants who do identify as Democrats are more conservative than members of the Democratic party overall. Foreign-born citizens are more than twice as likely as the general U.S. population to hold conservative or very conservative views yet identify as Democrats. While 11 percent of the general U.S. population falls into that category, 24 percent of the foreign-born population does, as well as 30 percent of foreign-born Hispanics. Forty three percent of Hispanic immigrant Democrats and 39 percent of all immigrant Democrats oppose allowing same sex marriage, compared with just 30 percent of Democrats who are native-born.
  • Immigrant citizens often don’t identify with the party one would expect based on their religious values. Sixty-three percent of native-born individuals who attend church once a week or more identify as Republicans or independents. Among immigrants, the equivalent figure is 51 percent. Similarly, 38 percent of the U.S.-born Evangelical or born-again Christian population identifies as Republican. Among immigrant Evangelicals, that figure is only 26 percent.
  • Some key and growing groups of immigrants could be critical to strengthening conservative causes in the future. In recent years, there has been a surge in the number of Hispanic immigrants who identify as Evangelical or born-again Christians. Among those Hispanics, 73 percent oppose abortion, compared to 43 percent of the U.S. population as a whole. Another growing group, black immigrants, is also more conservative than the broader U.S. population on some issues. Fifty-three percent of black immigrants, for instance, oppose gay marriage—a figure 9 percentage points higher than the opposition rate among the U.S. population as a whole.
  • Young immigrants today are more conservative and religious than young people in the country overall. Among Americans older than age 50, the foreign-born population is less religious than the U.S.-born population on a variety of measures. Among younger people, however, the trend is reversed: While 32 percent of native-born Americans ages 18-29 rank religion as “very important” to their lives, 41 percent of immigrants in that age group do. The same pattern exists for both gay marriage and abortion, where young immigrants are about 15 to 20 percent more likely to oppose such practices than young people born in America.

See the full report, “Shared Values: How Immigrants Align with the Republican and Democratic Parties on Social Values Issues.”

The report was released on a national media call hosted by the Partnership for a New American Economy, The Latino Coalition, the American Principles in Action Latino Partnership, and The LIBRE Initiative featuring conservative Hispanic leaders calling on Congress to pass immigration reform. Participants included Al Cardenas (former Chairman of the American Conservative Union), Daniel Garza (Executive Director of The LIBRE Initiative), Hector Barreto (Chairman of The Latino Coalition), Alfonso Aguilar (Executive Director of the American Principles in Action Latino Partnership), and Rosario Marin (41st Treasurer of the United States under President George W. Bush). The call and the report mark the beginning of the Partnership’s Hispanic Engagement campaign. Over the next few months, the Partnership will focus on the contributions of Hispanic immigrants and the need for immigration reform as a key issue for an increasingly important part of the electorate.


About NAE

New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…