In poll after poll, Latinos say the issue that concerns them most is not immigration, but jobs and the economy.

Except in Arizona, that is.

Some 55 percent of respondents in a Latino Decisions poll of Hispanic voters in Arizona released Tuesday said immigration was the most important issue that the President and Congress should address. The second-highest response was the economy, at 44 percent. (Respondents were permitted to select two answers.)

The poll results seem to confirm the obvious: that the controversial immigration issue matters more to Latinos in Arizona than the rest of the country. The southwestern state was the laboratory for state-led crackdowns on illegal immigration like SB 1070 and it’s home to some of the most strident advocates of tough enforcement, like Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Gov. Jan Brewer.

The news also contrasts against the GOP’s efforts to play down the volatile issue after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney embraced the hardline immigration positions of his party’s right wing during the primary. Romney has softened his immigration stance somewhat since winning the party’s nomination, dropping the awkward term “self-deport” and saying he’d support a military-only version of the DREAM Act. But Romney also says he’d overturn Obama’s directive to defer deportation for most immigrants brought here illegally as children.

The GOP insists that those issues don’t matter as much to Latinos as Democrats say. Tuesday’s poll paints a different picture.

Some 26 percent of those surveyed said immigration was the most important issue influencing their vote and another 42 percent said it was one of the most important. Only 8 percent of respondents said Mitt Romney’s immigration positions made them more enthusasitc about voting for him, while 64 percent said Obama’s deferred deportation decision made them more enthusiastic.

Obama walloped Romney among Hispanic voters in the traditionally red state, according to the poll. Eighty percent of respondents said they backed Obama, versus just 14 percent for Romney. The poll showed similar results for senate candidate Richard Carmona, who 75 percent of Hispanics favored, compared to just 12 percent for Republican candidate Jeff Flake.

Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Harlem, Carmona has tried to appeal to both Latino voters and independents turned off by the harsh anti-illegal immigrant rhetoric of the right. The most recent average of polls by Real Clear Politics shows a close race, with Flake up 2.3 percentage points above Carmona.

Democratic strategists had hoped the GOP-led illegal immigration crackdown in Arizona would push Latinos to the polls in record numbers, possibly enough to turn the state blue. But as November approaches, it seems those early hopes were optimistic. A report by Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy released in August said demographic shifts would likely lead the state to go Democratic, but not for another 20 or 30 years.

Immigration disproportionately affects the Latino community. Four out of five of the estimated 11.1 undocumented immigrants in the United States were born in Latin America, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

The poll of 400 Latino registered voters in Arizona was conducted between Sept. 29 and Oct. 4 and has a margin of error of 4.9 percent. Latino Decisions conducted the poll on behalf of America’s Voice, an organization that supports immigration reform.

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  • What is Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals?

    Deferred action temporarily prevents deportation of an individual that resides in the United States without a lawful immigration status. <u>It does not give or result in lawful status</u> for the individual, and can be terminated or renewed at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Deferred action does not excuse any past or future period of unlawful presence, however, individuals whose requests are accepted will not increase their unlawful presence in the country while under the action. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is a new directive introduced by the Obama Administration on June 15, 2012. The policy shift will allow individuals unlawfully brought into the U.S. as children, and who meet certain guidelines, to apply for two years of deferred action subject to renewal and termination at the discretion of the DHS. Once deferred action has been granted, individuals qualify to obtain work authorization in the United States if he or she can prove "an economic necessity for employment." Those applying must meet all specified guidelines, but decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis. <a href="" target="_hplink">Source: USCIS</a>

  • Who Is Eligible?

    Individuals currently in removal proceedings, with final orders for removal or with voluntary departure orders, qualify as long as they are not in immigration detention. Those who are in detention can request consideration for deferred action from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Anyone who meets <strong>ALL</strong> 7 guidelines outlined by the Obama Administration is eligible to request deferred action from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

  • Seven Requirements For Eligibility

    Applicants must: 1) Be under 31 years of age as of June 15, 2012. You must be at least 15 years of age, with some exceptions.* 2) Have come into the U.S. <u>before</u> the age of 16. 3) Have lived in the U.S. permanently since June 15, 2012. Some travel acceptable.* 4) Have been physically in the U.S. on June 15, 2012 and when applying for deferred action. 5) Have entered the U.S. without inspection before June 15, 2012 or have had their lawful immigration status expire since then. 6) Be currently enrolled in school at the time of the request. Also eligible are individuals who have graduated from high school, obtained a GED certificate, or are a honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard or U.S. Armed Forces. 7) Have not been convicted of a felony, "significant misdemeanor, 3 or more other misdemeanors," and/or are not seen as a threat to national security or public safety. <a href="" target="_hplink">*Check USCIS website for details.</a>

  • How To Apply?

    <strong>Before applying</strong>: On their website, the USCIS presents applicants with tips to <a href="" target="_hplink">ways to avoid scams</a>. In addition, the USCIS lists <a href="" target="_hplink">Before and After Filing Tips</a>, help in finding <a href="" target="_hplink">accredited legal services</a> to aid individuals file for deferred action, and examples of <a href="" target="_hplink">common scams to avoid.</a> <strong>Applying</strong>: USCIS begins accepting applications on August 15, 2012. Any requests received prior to this date will be rejected. For consideration, individuals must submit the following (next slide) to the USCIS Lockbox.

  • Forms and Fee

    The application consists of: 1) A completed and signed, <a href="" target="_hplink">Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival</a>. Forms should include evidence to support that you meet all 7 guidelines of eligibility. 2) <a href="" target="_hplink">Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization</a> 3) <a href=" Pages/i-765ws.pdf" target="_hplink">Form I-765WS, Worksheet</a> (which establishes your economic need for employment) 4) Filing fees for Form I-765, which total to $465.

  • After Applying

    All applicants will undergo a background check. Once the forms and fee are received and deemed complete by the USCIS, applicants will receive a receipt notice. The applicant can complete an additional form if he or she <a href="" target="_hplink">would like to receive this notice electronically</a>. Afterwards, the USCIS will send applicants notice of their mandatory appointment at an Application Support Center (ASC) for biometric services.

  • Additional Information

    Fee waivers for the work authorization application and biometric collection cannot be requested, very limited exceptions exist.* Denial of deferred action does not mean applicants will be placed in removal proceedings, however under exceptional circumstances cases may be referred to ICE.* Deferred action can be extended past the initial two year period unless terminated. USCIS's determination may not be appealed, though cases can be reviewed in certain circumstances.* Applicants should NOT travel outside of the United States as of August 15, 2012. Doing so will make the applicant ineligible for deferred action consideration. <a href="" target="_hplink">*Check USCIS website for details.</a>

  • How Many People Will Get Relief?

    According to The Immigration Policy Center, <a href="" target="_hplink">approximately 1.4 million immigrants in the United States are expected to meet the 7 guidelines</a> of the deferred action initiative, now or in the future. An estimated 936,930 meet those requirements as of August 15, 2012. California (412,560), Texas (226,700), Florida (85,750), and New York (70,170) are the states with the highest number of expected beneficiaries. <a href="" target="_hplink">Click to view complete chart.</a> Mexican immigrants make up almost 70% of those eligible.

  • Opposition To Deferred Action

    <a href="" target="_hplink">Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas)</a>, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee: <blockquote>"In order to process the millions of applications from illegal immigrants, the Obama administration will have to divert funding and other resources from processing legal immigration applications. This will lead to a backlog for legal immigrants who followed the rules, while allowing lawbreakers to skip to the front of the line." Adding that the policy shift is an "open invitation for fraud" during the application process. </blockquote> The directive is <a href="" target="_hplink">expected to cost $585 million. </a> Presidential candidate Mitt Romney said in an <a href="" target="_hplink">interview with CBS News</a>: <blockquote>"With regards to these kids who were brought in by their parents through no fault of their own, there needs to be a long-term solution so they know what their status is."</blockquote>