WASHINGTON — U.S.-born children of Hispanic immigrants are more likely than their parents to identify themselves as Democrats as they integrate into American life, maintaining strong ties to their cultural heritage while casting themselves as liberal on social issues.
A wide-ranging study released Thursday by the Pew Research Center lays bare some of the difficulties for the Republican Party following elections last November, when President Obama won with support from 80 percent of nonwhite and ethnic voters. The report tracks the socioeconomic progress and views of second-generation Americans, the bulk of them Latinos and Asians who were born in the U.S. after a 1965 immigration law opened U.S. borders to millions of non-Europeans.
"What's striking over the past several decades is that the two groups at the heart of the modern immigration wave – Hispanics and Asian-Americans – have both been trending Democratic over time, as they sink their roots deeper into American society," Paul Taylor, Pew's executive vice president, said in an interview.
"Many decades ago, Ronald Reagan is said to have described Hispanics as `Republicans who don't know it yet.' Well, it's 2013, and they apparently still haven't figured it out," he said.
The report says adult children of immigrants as a group are integrating into U.S. society and doing generally better than newly arrived immigrants in median income, educational attainment and English fluency. The second-generation group also reports increased social ties, including intermarriage, with other racial and ethnic groups.
About 60 percent of Hispanics and Asians in the second generation consider themselves to be a "typical American," roughly double the share of first-generation immigrants who think so. At the same time, however, the second-generation groups maintain strong ties to their ancestral roots in an increasingly multicultural U.S., with majorities identifying themselves by their family's country of origin, such as Mexican-American, or by a pan-ethnic label such as Asian-American.
The study is based on Pew's analysis of census data as of March 2012, as well as prior years, supplemented with data from Pew polls including the 2011 and 2012 National Survey of Latinos and the 2012 Asian-American Survey. It uses commonly accepted demographic methods and models to track the population of different generations over time.
In a sign of challenges for the GOP, the generation that includes U.S.-born adult children of more recent Latino immigrants moved politically to the left of those in their parents' generation.
Among Hispanics, 71 percent who are second-generation are Democrats or lean that way, compared to 63 percent in the first generation. Among Asians, the ratio also edged higher, 52 to 49, although not enough to be considered statistically significant.
In the broader public, 49 percent reported that they are Democrats or lean that way.
On social issues such as gay rights and abortion, the adult children of immigrants are more liberal. While 53 percent of first-generation Hispanics say that homosexuality should be accepted by society, 68 percent in the second generation said so. The disparity is even wider among Asians expressing support: 46 percent (first-generation) compared to 78 percent (second-generation). Among the general public, support for gay rights stood at roughly 56 percent.
For abortion, where support and opposition among the overall public is evenly divided, the share of Hispanics who said abortion should be legal in all or most cases grew from one generation to the next, from 33 percent to 55 percent. Among Asians, the share rose from 51 percent to 66 percent.
The study said the relative youth of the second-generation group contributes to, but does not fully account for, their leftward shift on social issues.
But not all issues strictly followed that pattern.
When asked if they preferred a big government offering more services or a smaller government providing less, second-generation Hispanics were less likely than the first generation to support a big government, 71 percent to 83 percent. The same trend of declining support applied to second-generation Asians, 47 percent to 57 percent. Still, support among second-generation Americans for big government was higher than that of the general public, which stood at 39 percent.
The study's findings come as a fiscally conservative GOP is seeking ways to expand its shrinking base of aging white voters. Some Republicans, including Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, are now urging their party to embrace an overhaul of immigration laws, including a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, to prevent Democrats from using the issue as a wedge in future elections.
Due to immigration and high births, particularly among Hispanics, first- and second-generation immigrants now make up 1 in 4 U.S. residents. They are projected to rise to more than 1 in 3 by 2050. The two groups will represent as much as 93 percent of the growth in the U.S. working age-population between now and midcentury.
Since President Reagan garnered 37 percent of the Hispanic vote in 1980, Hispanic support for Republican presidential nominees has generally fallen, reaching 27 percent last November, according to exit polling conducted for the television networks and The Associated Press. The exceptions: 2000 and 2004, when an immigration-friendly Republican, George W. Bush, won after capturing 35 percent and 44 percent of the Latino vote, respectively. Among Asian-Americans, GOP support has steadily dropped from 55 percent in 1992 to 26 percent last November.
Among the report's findings:
_Better off: Adults in the second generation as a whole do better than those in the first generation in median household income ($58,000 vs. $46,000); college degrees (36 percent vs. 29 percent); and homeownership (64 percent vs. 51 percent). They are also less likely to be in poverty.
_Group relations: About 52 percent of Hispanics and 64 percent of Asian-Americans from the second generation say their group gets along well with all other racial and ethnic groups. That's compared to 26 percent of Latinos and 49 percent of Asians from the first generation. In terms of marriage, about 26 percent of Hispanics and 23 percent of Asian Americans in the second generation have a spouse of a different race or ethnicity, significantly higher than in the first generation.
_Language use: About 9 in 10 second-generation Hispanic and Asian-Americans can speak English "well" or "very well," substantially more than the immigrant generations.
AP polling director Jennifer Agiesta and news survey specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.
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The Naturalization Act of 1790
The Naturalization Act of 1790 was our country's first set of laws dealing with citizenship. Applicants had to be "<a href="http://rs6.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llsl&fileName=001/llsl001.db&recNum=226 " target="_hplink">a free white person</a>" of "good moral character." This excluded indentured servants and slaves. Good moral character was substantiated by establishing residence for at least one year in the state from where he was applying, and at least two years of residence in the country. The Naturalization Act of 1795 would extend that requirement to five years, and is still standard today.
The Fourteenth Amendment, 1868
A Reconstruction Amendment that was added to the U.S. Constitution following the Civil War, the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment establishes for the first time that children born on U.S. soil would be conferred U.S. citizenship regardless of their parent's citizenship status, race, or place of birth. Last year, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) introduced the <a href="http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr140 " target="_hplink">Birthright Citizenship Act of 2011</a> to Congress, and challenged this. The bill would require that at least one parent be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident for a child to be granted citizenship. According to the <a href="http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-h140/text " target="_hplink">bill's text</a>, the Birthright Citizenship Act of 2011 would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, and "clarify those classes of individuals born in the United States who are nationals and citizens of the United States at birth." Prior to this, Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA) <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/05/26/nathan-deal-georgia-lawma_n_207485.html " target="_hplink">introduced</a> a similar <a href="http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h1868/show" target="_hplink">bill</a> in 2009.
The Naturalization Act of 1870
The Naturalization Act of 1870<a href="http://thepoliticsofimmigration.org/pages/chronology.htm " target="_hplink"> explicitly extended</a> naturalization laws to "aliens of African nativity and persons of African descent." This meant that for the first time, African-American children would be conferred citizenship upon birth. Asian immigrants and other people of color are excluded per the Naturalization Acts of 1790 and 1795.
The Page Act of 1875
Named after Republican Representative Horace F. Page, this is the first U.S. federal immigration law to explicitly prohibit the immigration of a particular group: persons of Asian descent. Primarily meant to limit Chinese immigrant labor and prostitution, the Page Act prohibited the immigration of: (1) contracted labor from "China, Japan, or any Oriental country" that was not "free and voluntary," (2) Chinese prostitution and (3) criminals and women who would engage in prostitution. Ultimately, the <a href="http://www.uchastings.edu/racism-race/pageact.html " target="_hplink">Page Act</a> severely <a href="http://immigration-online.org/228-page-act-united-states-1875.html " target="_hplink">restricted</a> the immigration of Asian women. Only 136 of the the nearly 40,000 Chinese immigrants who arrived in the months before the bill's enforcement were women. And, it would pave the way for the Chinese Exclusion Act. In this picture, Michael Lin, chair of the 1882 Project, a coalition of rights groups seeking a statement of regret over that year's Chinese Exclusion Act, speaks on May 26, 2011 in Washington, DC, at the US House of Representatives in front of a reproduction of a 19th-century sign that aimed at rousing up sentiment against Chinese Americans. Lawmakers introduced a bill that would offer an official statement of regret for the act, which banned further immigration of Chinese to the United States and ended citizenship rights for ethnic Chinese. (AFP PHOTO/SHAUN TANDON).
The Chinese Exclusion Act, 1882
Signed by President Chester A. Arthur, the <a href="http://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/resources/archives/seven/chinxact.htm " target="_hplink">Chinese Exclusion Act</a> was the first federal immigration law to prohibit immigration on the basis of race. The bill barred all Chinese laborers, skilled and unskilled, from immigrating to the U.S. for ten years. It was made permanent by 1903, and was not lifted until the 1943 Magnuson Act. The 1898 Supreme Court <a href="http://ocp.hul.harvard.edu/immigration/exclusion.html " target="_hplink">decision</a> in <em>United States v. Wong Kim Ark</em> finally extended naturalization laws to persons of Chinese descent by ruling that anyone born in the United States was indeed a U.S. citizen. This editorial cartoon from 1882 shows a Chinese man being excluded from entry to the "Golden Gate of Liberty." The sign next to the iron door reads, "Notice--Communist, Nihilist, Socialist, Fenian & Hoodlum welcome. But no admittance to Chinamen." At the bottom, the caption reads, "THE ONLY ONE BARRED OUT. Enlightened American Statesman--'We must draw the line <em>somewhere</em>, you know.'" (Image Source: Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper, vol. 54 (1882 April 1), p. 96. [Public domain], via <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_only_one_barred_out_cph.3b48680.jpg" target="_hplink">Wikimedia Commons</a>).
The Naturalization Act of 1906
The Naturalization Act of 1906 further <a href="http://www.understandingrace.org/history/gov/eastern_southern_immigration.html" target="_hplink">defined</a> the naturalization process: the ability to speak English was made a <a href="http://www.enotes.com/topic/Naturalization_Act_of_1906" target="_hplink">requisite</a> for immigrants to adjust their status.
The Immigration Act of 1924
U.S. President Coolidge signed this U.S. federal <a href="http://history.state.gov/milestones/1921-1936/ImmigrationAct " target="_hplink">bill</a> into law. It capped the number of immigrants who could be admitted entry to the U.S. and barred immigration of persons who were not eligible for naturalization. And, as the Naturalization Act of 1790 required, an immigrant had to be white in order to naturalize. The quotas varied by country. Image Source: Flickr Creative Commons, <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/nycmarines/6306315902/" target="_hplink">NYCMarines</a>.
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (The McCarran-Walter Act)
The <a href="https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:zwaVG82lZisJ:www-rohan.sdsu.edu/dept/polsciwb/brianl/docs/1952McCarranWaltersAct.pdf+&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESjEwx76FIBTixZAfyncZz-1CSuSeciv5qB6vvWTrUfW58XRpXq8zkpnI57XSuuG5Bu-WSySGbEhxYvZxP7y6qDQuOsDhgDa6qUqUaJ8F4imTzKJsVtppHc_-eew2dK6vGhoIUZs&sig=AHIEtbTNQ5GFiNMVS-xyThq8VVSj_gG9KA " target="_hplink">McCarran-Walter Act</a> kept up the controversial Immigration Act of 1924, but <a href="http://history.state.gov/milestones/1945-1952/ImmigrationAct" target="_hplink">formally</a> ended Asian exclusion.
Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965
When President Lyndon Johnson signed the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, it <a href="http://library.uwb.edu/guides/USimmigration/1965_immigration_and_nationality_act.html" target="_hplink">abolished</a> the quota system that favored immigration from Europe and limited immigration from Asia and South America.
Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996
The 1996 <a href="http://www.uscis.gov/ilink/docView/PUBLAW/HTML/PUBLAW/0-0-0-10948.html " target="_hplink">Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act</a> (IIRIRA) is a piece of legislation that <a href="http://library.uwb.edu/guides/usimmigration/1996_illegal_immigration_reform_and_immigrant_responsibility_act.html " target="_hplink">defined</a> an array of issues to do with legal and illegal immigration -- from outlining how border patrol agents should administer visa processing, to the minutiae of how to handle deportation proceedings -- IIRIRA established enforcement and patrolling practices.