Apr 9, 2024 - Politics & Policy

U.S. Latinos fear new mass deportations may target all Hispanics

Salvadorean immigrants are told to put their hands on a bus while they are searched by the guards before being taken to the airport to be deported, at Willacy Detention facility in Raymondville, Texas on December 18, 2008.

Salvadoran migrants at Willacy Detention facility in Raymondville, Texas are searched before being deported on Dec. 18, 2008. Photo: Jose Cabezas/AFP via Getty Images

More than half of U.S. Latino adults worry any new mass deportations would target all Latinos regardless of legal status, a new Axios-Ipsos Latino Poll in partnership with Noticias Telemundo finds.

Why it matters: Former President Trump has promised mass deportations if he wins a second term, and past efforts have swept up U.S. citizens, creating generations of trauma.

By the numbers: 54% of Mexicans and Mexican Americans — the targets of mass deportations in the 20th Century — said they worried that any new mass deportation plan would target all Latinos, including U.S. citizens and lawful residents.

  • 65% of Central Americans, who have been targets in recent deportations, said the same.
  • So did 47% of Puerto Ricans who are all U.S. citizens and 37% of Cuban Americans, who have benefited from decades of Cold War-era "special treatment" and what some scholars say are unique immigration privileges.
  • Overall, 52% of Latinos surveyed said they worry that all Latinos will be targets of the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants.

Catch up quick: Trump's plan to crack down on immigrants includes using a range of tools to deport millions of people, including obscure laws and military funds.

  • Trump wants to mobilize ICE agents — along with the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, federal prosecutors, the National Guard, and even state and local law enforcement officers — to carry out deportations, Axios previously reported.
  • Fast-track deportations now reserved for recent crossers encountered near the border — would be expanded to apply to anyone who illegally crossed the border and couldn't prove they'd been living in the U.S. for more than two years.

Flashback: State and local governments during the Great Depression "repatriation" pressured Mexicans and Mexican Americans to "return" to Mexico amid high unemployment in the U.S. and violent anti-Mexican sentiment. About a million people, most of whom were coerced, left.

  • The Eisenhower-era "Operation Wetback" used military-style tactics to round up 1.3 million Mexicans and Mexican Americans across the country in the 1950s for the-then largest deportation operation in U.S. history. "Wetback" is a racial slur for Mexicans.
  • Both mass deportations snatched up American citizens, including a future World War II hero and Holocaust survivor who had been racially profiled

The big picture: While a majority of respondents are fearful of deportations, they are increasingly in favor of more hardline positions on immigration as support for Donald Trump among Latinos grows, Ipsos pollster and senior vice president Chris Jackson tells Axios.

  • For example, 64% of Latinos agreed with giving the president the authority to shut U.S. borders if there are too many migrants trying to enter the country.

Yes, but: Latino activists and political leaders worry that increasingly harsh and racist rhetoric about immigrants — particularly by Trump and his supporters — is fueling a surge in the already record-breaking number of hate crimes against Latinos.

Methodology: This Axios-Ipsos Latino Poll, in partnership with Noticias Telemundo, was conducted March 22-28 by Ipsos' KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,012 Hispanic/Latino adults age 18 or older.

  • The margin of sampling error is ±3.6 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample.

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