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Latinos in Poll See Positive Side of Illegal Immigration : Survey: The statewide study, in contrast with other samplings, found great disapproval of Wilson's proposals.

September 09, 1993|DIANNE KLEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A statewide survey of Latinos released Wednesday found an overwhelming disapproval of Gov. Pete Wilson's proposals to stem illegal immigration and a widespread belief that illegal immigrants contribute positively to the state.

In contrast with other recent polls, however, the survey sponsored by Spanish-language Channel 52, La Opinion newspaper and the National Assn. of Latino Elected Officials did not ask whether Latinos believed that illegal immigration should be cut back. Other surveys have found that Latinos mirrored the concerns of other Americans that too many illegal immigrants are in the country.

Pollster Sergio Bendixen, also a political analyst and commentator for Noticias Telemundo, said he did not ask specifically about illegal immigration concerns because he wanted to "go beyond" other polls.

"Who is going to be for it?" he said. "Who is going to say that they favor something that is illegal? . . . I think if you had asked people straight out, most would have said they were against illegal immigration."

But when given a choice as to whether they believed illegal immigrants contributed positively or negatively to California, 73% of the respondents said positively, while 13% answered negatively and 14% said they did not know.

Asked whether they thought California's quality of life and economic recovery were "under siege" from illegal immigration, 59% disagreed and 34% agreed.

A poll of Orange County Latinos conducted recently by The Times found that 47% of the county's Latinos believe that "new Latino immigrants" are a burden on the economy, while just 18% said they are a boost. Nearly half of the Latino respondents also said they consider illegal immigration to be a "major problem" while an additional 29% saw it as a "moderate problem."

The Orange County survey also found that while most Latinos opposed some proposed immigration reforms, the support was sharply higher than that found in Bendixen's poll.

In Orange County, a proposal by Wilson to deny citizenship to U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants was opposed by 59% of the Latino poll respondents and supported by 31%. A similar result was found among Orange County Latinos on the question of denying illegal immigrants access to public schools.

In the poll by Bendixen, 81% said they opposed Wilson's package of reforms and 13% said they supported the ideas.

The Bendixen survey also found that 67% agreed that "Gov. Wilson is talking about the issue of illegal immigration in a way that promotes anti-immigrant hatred."

The Bendixen survey was conducted by telephone among 500 Latino adult residents of California from Aug. 27-29. Half of the respondents described themselves as non-citizens, and 51% were questioned in Spanish. The margin of error was 4.4%.

While most of the poll dealt with Wilson's proposals and immigration in general, it also found that 47% of non-citizen Latinos have plans to apply for U.S. citizenship.

In announcing a public service campaign to encourage Latinos to become citizens, Harry Pachon, national director of the National Assn. of Latin Elected and Appointed Officials, noted that one out of every two California Latinos is not a U.S. citizen.

Times staff writer Davan Maharaj contributed to this story.

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