Asian American Decisions Posts

Facing Fraud or Saving Face?

Survey of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders 50 Years and Older on Fraud and Scams

by (originally posted at AARP Research)

Older Americans are particularly vulnerable as targets of certain kinds of fraud; and frauds and scams affect diverse populations in distinct ways. Yet, there is relatively little data about the fraud experiences of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) population. AARP commissioned a survey to assess the extent that AAPIs age 50 and older are aware of and affected by different types of fraud; and to better understand if some AAPIs are especially likely to be hit by frauds and scams.

Key findings include the following:

  • Seventy-two percent (72%) of AAPIs age 50-plus and their families have been targets of fraud.
  • Thirty-nine percent (39%) of AAPIs age 50-plus and their families have been victims of fraud.
  • One in three victims of fraud did not talk to anyone about the fraudulent incident.
  • Thirty-three percent (33%) of victims lost money, costing them $15,000 on average.
  • Seventy-two percent (72%) of fraud victims experienced an emotional, mental or physical outcome.

The survey finds high rates of exposure to fraud offers and experience with financial fraud among AAPIs age 50-plus and their families. Exposure to fraud carries not only financial costs, but also costs to the physical and mental health of AAPIs. These non-financial costs of being victimized by fraud are far more common than dollar losses and occur even when there is no quantifiable financial cost. In addition, one in three fraud vicitims did not talk to anyone about the incident and of those who did, fewer than half formally reported it to an agency or law enforcement office.

This data was collected via a telephone survey concerning consumer fraud and scams conducted by Asian American Decisions on behalf of AARP. The national sample of Asian American and Pacific Islanders age 50-plus included a total of 1,120 interviews by telephone between Oct. 2 and Nov. 6, 2017. Telephone interviewing was conducted in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Korean. Data were weighted to reflect the AAPI 50-plus population.  For more information contact Angela Houghton at [email protected].

Learn More about This Survey

Suggested Citation: Houghton, Angela. Facing Fraud or Saving Face? A Survey of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders 50 Years and Older on Fraud and Scams. Washington, DC: AARP Research, January 2018.

Asian American Decisions releases 2014 election eve poll results

In 2014 Asian American Decisions interviewed 1,150 Asian American and Pacific Islander voters in advance of the November 2014 election.  The survey provides an important contrast to the National Exit Poll which only interviewed 304 total Asian Americans.  The Asian American Decisions poll was implemented by telephone to landline and cellphones, using live callers and available in six different languages, depending on the preference of the respondent.  The project was overseen by Professor Taeku Lee, a leading national expert in the study of Asian American voters, who is the Managing Director of Asian American Decisions.


The 2014 House Elections and Comprehensive Immigration Reform Revisited

From the perspective of most Latino voters, the actions of the House Republicans have made a bad situation worse. House Republicans will bear the blunt of the blame if comprehensive immigration reform does not pass. Their dithering also creates an opportunity for President Obama to take administrative action and in so doing, allow the Democrats to claim credit for responding to the single most important issue facing the Latino community. Moreover, by only allowing votes on enforcement related legislation, the most vulnerable House Republican incumbents will be running for reelection with a record of immigration votes that are antithetical to the policies favored by the vast majority of Latino voters.

Still, how these dynamics play out next November remains an open question. Indeed, last summer we noted that although the Latino influence districts that we identified provide contexts where immigration politics could be deterministic, for immigration to matter, a number of factors have to align.

First, Latino voters have to turnout next November. To be sure, Latino turnout lags behind many other demographic groups. However, the relative youth of the Latino population and its growth means that the size of the Latino population will be larger in every one of the districts that we identified (using 2010 US Census data) and there may be even more districts where Latinos are positioned to effect outcomes come November. Add to this the fact that the GOP’s immigration tactics are alienating other fast growing voting blocs such as Asian Americans and one point is clear: the 2014 midterm election will have the largest share of minority and non-white voters in the country’s history and these voters are overwhelmingly opposed to the Republican’s immigration politics and policies.

Second, while voter turnout in a midterm election declines significantly (typically, 60% turnout in presidential election as compared to 40% in midterms), it declines for all voters. As a consequence, marginal decreases of one group relative to other groups can have outsized effects. The last midterm election offers anecdotal evidence consistent with this point. In Nevada, the Latino share of the 2010 electorate was the same as it was during the 2008 presidential election (it increased an additional three percentage points in 2012). The anti-immigration rhetoric and campaign tactics of Sharron Angle, the Republican US Senate candidate, mobilized many of these voters with the end result being 90% of Latinos voted for Harry Reid. It is also worth noting that many prognosticators and pundits predicted Reid’s defeat largely because they expected Latinos to stay home.

Third and perhaps most importantly, the competitiveness of a race in November is shaped by the quality of the opposition that emerges in the spring and summer. The failure of the out-party to recruit and fund a challenger who is capable of running a strong campaign means that incumbents who might otherwise look vulnerable may easily win. Conversely, the emergence of a surprisingly strong challenger or the retirement of an incumbent can put districts that appeared safe for one party into play in the fall. Indeed, in the last few months two California House Republicans (Gary Miller and Buck McKeon) representing tier one and tier two districts announced their retirements, further improving the Democrats’ chances in those districts.

The bottom line when it comes to House elections, where incumbent reelection rates typically exceed 90%, is that you “can’t beat somebody with nobody.” To this end, in the coming months as primary season wanes and the fall campaigns begin in earnest, Latino Decisions will be providing regular updates on the state of play in the Democratically and Republican held tier one and tier two districts with a specific focus on assessing the quality of the challengers and these candidates’ access to resources so that you know which races will matter in November. So stay tuned, much more to come.

Polling Election Results Show Anti-Immigrant Candidates Face Long Odds Given Demographic Realities

Virginia and New Jersey Offer Clear Lesson for National GOP in 2014 and Beyond on Immigration

Press Release originally posted at America’s Voice

Washington, DC – An election-eve poll of extremely likely Latino and Asian voters in Virginia, conducted by Latino Decisions and sponsored by America’s Voice and People For the American Way (PFAW), shows that what candidates say and do on immigration has a direct impact on voter perception of the two parties and the results of close elections.  When viewing the Republicans’ loss in Virginia alongside the Party’s successes in New Jersey, it’s clear that winning candidates in states with diverse electorates must find a way to appeal to the growing Latino and Asian electorates through issues like immigration.

According to Gary Segura, Professor of American Politics and Chair of Chicano/a Studies, Stanford University and Co-Founder of Latino Decisions, “Like recent GOP presidential candidates, those seeking the Virginia’s governorship need to address the new demographic reality in the US and the Commonwealth.  Cuccinelli got 89% of his votes from whites and that’s not going to cut it in the new American electorate. The demography is relentless.”

Added Xavier Medina Vidal, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Virginia Tech, “Exit poll data from last night virtually ignored a growing and important feature of the Virginia’s present and future electorate. Asian and Hispanic voters in Virginia, segments of the electorate that McAuliffe embraced and Cuccinelli and the Tea Party pushed away, sent a signal to the national GOP that their votes might be up for grabs if they are able to reign in the Tea Party and dial down the pessimism and obstructionism.”

Groups on the ground have been working tirelessly over the last several months to make contact with Virginia’s Latino and Asian voters and encourage them to turn voters out to the polls.  The NCLR Action Fund, in partnership with the League of United Latin America, made over 75,000 calls and reached out to almost 30,000 households to educate Hispanic voters about both candidates’ immigration positions.  People for the American Way also devoted significant resources to Latino outreach in Virginia, investing in Spanish-language ads to highlight Ken Cuccinelli’s extremist immigration views.

Said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way, “If Republicans continue their strategy of alienating large groups of Americans, they will continue their losing streak at the polls. Ken Cuccinelli’s performance among Latinos is the perfect example of this.”

In contrast to Virginia, results in New Jersey’s gubernatorial race show that by embracing pro-immigrant policies and prioritizing Latino outreach, Republican candidates can compete for and win Latino voters.  Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) went from losing Latino voters by a 65%-32% margin to Gov. Jon Corzine in 2009 exit polls to winning Latino voters outright, (51%-45% per network exit polls) as part of his victory over Democratic opponent Barbara Buono.

Said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “This is truly the tale of two candidates.  In Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli’s anti-Latino and anti-immigrant statements and positions led him to lose big with Latinos and Asian-American voters.  In New Jersey, Chris Christie’s outreach and pro-immigrant positions led him to win a majority of Latino voters.  The national GOP should heed the lessons of Virginia and New Jersey, starting with whether to pass immigration reform or block it: turn your back on communities that closely identify with the immigrant experience and you will lose; extend a sincere welcome – in tone and policy – and you can win.”

Below are some of the key takeaways from Tuesday’s election results and what this means heading into 2014 and beyond (crosstabs of the poll results are available here, toplines  available here).

In Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli had Mitt-Romney-like numbers among Latino and Asian voters, in large part due to his anti-immigrant record: Virginia Latino voters supported Terry McAuliffe over Ken Cuccinelli by a 66%-29% margin, while Asian voters supported McAuliffe by a 63%-34% margin.  By comparison, in Latino Decisions’ 2012 Election Eve polling in Virginia, Latinos supported President Obama over Mitt Romney by a 66%-31% margin (Asian voters supported Obama over Romney by a 66%-32% margin in 2012, per network exit polls).

Cuccinelli’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and record won him few friends among Virginia’s Latino and Asian voters – this Washington Post story features testimonials from Latino voters about the importance and personal lens through which many Latino and Asian voters view the immigration debate. The Latino Decisions election eve poll found that a strong majority of Latinos and Asians were less enthusiastic about Cuccinelli after hearing a range of his anti-immigrant statements and positions and that the majority of Virginia’s Latino voters – 59% – reported knowing an undocumented immigrant.

In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie leaned into immigration reform and Latino outreach and dramatically improved his performance among Latinos compared to 2009. Gov. Christie supports immigration reform with citizenship, reversed course and publicly endorsed the New Jersey Dream Act, and spent heavily on Spanish language TV, radio, and mail.  This is a major reason Gov. Christie went from losing Latino voters by a 65%-32% margin to Gov. Jon Corzine in 2009 per exit polls to winning Latino voters outright, 51%-45%, against Democratic nominee Barbara Buono, per 2013 network exit polls.  Compared to 2009, Christie improved his performance among Latino voters by 59%! See here for more on the immigration reform record and rhetoric of Chris Christie.

It will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to win states like New Jersey or Virginia – or many other elections nationwide – by following the Cuccinelli model instead of the Christie model.  As The Fix political team at the Washington Post noted, the non-white electorate in Virginia grew from 22% in 2009 to 28% in 2013 gubernatorial race, assessing that for the national Republican Party, “Christie’s win, contrasted with Cuccinelli’s loss, could hardly provide a starker contrast for the GOP and a clearer message about how it wins in the future.”

Concluded Dolores Huerta, Co-Founder of the United Farm Workers Union, the Dolores Huerta Foundation and longtime civil rights and labor activist, “The results and level of turnout amongst Latinos certainty give us the map of the work we have to do in the future.  We know that Republicans have announced that they will spend 10 million dollars in outreach to Latino voters, and I hope that what happened in New Jersey will kind of be some sort of template for them. What happened in New Jersey and Virginia should give House leadership a lot of impetus to bring immigration reform to the floor for a vote.”


Democrats Crush Republicans Among Latino and Asian American Voters in Virginia

With polls closed across the Commonwealth of Virginia, Latino Decisions can release the results of our 2013 Virginia Election Eve Survey of Latino and Asian American voters, commissioned by America’s Voice and the People For the American Way.  The poll finds a staggering margin of victory for Democrats within these two rapidly growing segments of the American electorate.

Complete topline results and full cross tabs.

Gubernatorial Race

Democrat Terry McAuliffe out paced his GOP opponent, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, by a staggering 37-point margin.  Latino Decisions estimates McAuliffe received 66% of the Latino vote, compared with 29% for Ken Cuccinelli. Among Asian Americans, McAuliffe’s margin was 29 percentage points.

VA Fig 1

We estimate that Asian American voters gave the Democrat 63% of their vote, compared with 34% for the GOP nominee. McAuliffe’s performance among Latinos was even better than President Obama’s vote share (as estimated by exit polls) in 2008 (65%) and 2012 (64%).  By contrast, Ken Cuccinelli underperformed both John McCain (34%) and Mitt Romney (33%) in the state.

Attorney General’s Race

In the race to succeed Cuccinelli as Attorney General, the Democratic margin was even greater.  Latino Decisions estimates that Mark Herring, the Democratic nominee, out polled Mark Obenshain among Latinos by an even more impressive 40-point margin.  We estimate Herring with 69% of the Latino vote, compared with Obenshain’s 29%.

VA Fig 2

Among Asian Americans, the margin was 24 percentage points.  Latino Decisions estimates that Mark Herring received 61% of the Asian American vote while Obenshain received 37%. The importance of the minority vote is even greater in this race, widely seen as more hotly contested than that for Governor.

House of Delegates

And how about in the races for the Virginia House?  Latino Decisions estimates that Democrats out-polled Republicans among Latinos 65% to 32%, a 33-point margin, while among Asian Americans, Democrats led 58% to 42% for the GOP.

VA Fig 3

The Importance of Immigration

Voters from both immigrant-rich ethnic communities indicated the importance of immigration to their vote choices.  A majority of Latino voters—53%–indicated that immigration was one of the, if not the, most important issue in determining their vote.  Perhaps more surprising, among Asian American voters, 46% identified immigration as one of the issues most driving their voting decisions.  Only 18% of Latinos and 24% of Asian Americans said immigration did not affect their vote.

VA Fig 4

A Note about Asian American Voters

In 1992, when McAuliffe’s mentor Bill Clinton was elected to the presidency, he received only 31% of the Asian American vote nationally.  Last year, Barack Obama received 73% of the Asian vote nationally and 66% in Virginia.  This shift of Asian American voters from super-majority Republican to super-majority Democratic, in just one generation, is reflected again in tonight’s vote.

Complete topline results and full cross tabs.

About the Poll/Methodology

Latino Decisions interviewed 400 Latino voters and 400 Asian American voters participating in the Virginia 2013 general election. Voters were contacted by landline and cell phone between November 1- November 4. Latino respondents had the option to take the survey in English or Spanish and Asian American respondents had the option to take the survey in English, Korean, Mandarin, Tagalog, or Vietnamese, at their choosing. Initial sampling was based on Latinos and Asian Americans who had voted in the 2009 election, or newer registrants who voted in both the 2010 and 2012 general elections. To take the survey, respondents were asked if they had already voted early or by absentee ballot, or if not, if they were certain to vote in the Nov 5 election. Each ethnic group sample carries a margin of error of +/- 4.9%.

New Poll: Virginia’s Latino and Asian Voters Weigh In On Gubernatorial Race & Immigration Reform

For immediate release: November 4, 2013

Contact: Katy Green, 650.464.1545

Data Reveals How Virginia Could Be Test Case for the National GOP in 2014 and Beyond

****Latino and Asian Election Eve Poll in Virginia****

***TUES 11/5 Poll Release in Two Parts***

**WED 11/6 Webinar at 12pm ET**

Washington, DC – With Election Day in Virginia tomorrow, and the gubernatorial candidates’ positioning on immigration reform on stark display, a new election-eve poll will reveal how Virginia’s changing demographics are also changing the state’s politics.  The Virginia race could be a sign of things to come for the GOP in 2014 when it comes to the politics of immigration.

The election-eve poll of extremely likely voters, conducted by Latino Decisions and sponsored by America’s Voice and People For the American Way (PFAW), assesses voters’ attitudes about the current immigration debate and how it impacts their political decisions.

On Tuesday, Election Day, data on voters’ attitudes on key immigration policy issues will be released on a rolling basis. Latino Decisions, PFAW, and AV will first release the issue questions from this poll of 400 Asian and 400 Latino “extremely likely” voters in Virginia. Candidate selection data will also be available to reporters under embargo until 7pm Eastern if requested.  The data will then be made public as the polls close in Virginia that night. 

The next day, Wednesday, November 6th at 12pm ET, pollsters, civic engagement leaders and immigration experts will then analyze the full results on a press call/webinar.

If you are a member of the news media and would like to receive an embargoed copy of the gubernatorial race match-up results, please email Katy Green ([email protected]).

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli’s hardline immigration positions, including his past statements comparing immigrants to rats and his labeling of notorious anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King (R-IA) as his “favorite” congressman, have alienated a large swath of Latino, Asian, and immigrant voters who are increasingly influential in Virginia and nationally. In contrast, Democrat Terry McAuliffe has spent significant campaign resources on Hispanic outreach and even started a “Latinos con Terry” committee. On Wednesday, speakers will explain how the changing demographics and politics in Virginia could serve as a warning flag for the Republican Party in 2014 and beyond.

What: Election Day VA Poll Release (11/5) and Post-Election Webinar (noon 11/6)

How: to receive embargoed results on Tuesday, 11/5: email [email protected]

Participate: in the noon Eastern press call/webinar on 11/6) Call 1-866-952-7534; Passcode: VIRGINIA and follow the presentation here: (meeting ID: VIRGINIA, entry code: ATTEND)

Press Call Speakers:

Gary Segura, Professor of American Politics and Chair of Chicano/a Studies, Stanford University; Principal, Latino Decisions

Xavier Medina Vidal, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Virginia Tech

Dolores Huerta, Co-Founder of the United Farm Workers Union and longtime civil rights and labor activist

Michael Keegan, President, People For the American Way

Frank Sharry, Executive Director, America’s Voice

What Immigrant Voters Want – A Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill

The results of the 2012 election have awakened the Republican Party to their impending demographic disaster. Substantial growth in the size and power of the Latino vote—and an overwhelming tilt in that vote against their nominee—paints a bleak future for Republican electability. Coupled with startling Democratic vote share among Asian Americans (73%), and an ever more resolute and motivated African American vote, demography may be destiny for the GOP.

For both Latinos and Asian Americans, immigration looms large as an impediment to GOP improvement in these communities. This reality—long denied by both parties—has become abundantly clear. In impreMedia/Latino Decisions’ Election Eve polling 57% of Latino voters said that Romney’s positions on immigration made them “less enthusiastic” about the Governor. Among Asian American Voters in our Asian Decisions Election Eve survey, an identical number, 57%, reported favoring comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship. In our collaborative poll for the NAACP, 80% of African American voters in four battlegrounds states favored the same comprehensive approach.

In the immediate aftermath of the election, Senators Schumer and Graham announced that they had reinitiated negotiations, while pundits as surprising as Sean Hannity announced that the GOP had to get the immigration issue “behind” them.

This development inevitably raises the question of what Latino voters want in an immigration reform effort. To accomplish Hannity’s hope of putting the issue to rest, it would do the GOP little good to deliver an immigration outcome with widespread Latino opposition. That will be a difficult temptation to resist, however, since strong resistance to immigration and immigration reform among certain quarters of the GOP will push to have the legislation deliver as little as possible.

Over the last 18 months, impreMedia and Latino Decisions repeatedly polled Latino registered voters specifically about their preferences regarding changes in US immigration policy. Based on that poll and our more recent work, here are our observations regarding the “must haves” in any comprehensive reform.

Meaningful adjustment of status with a path to citizenship. Latino voters, indeed ALL voters, prefer a comprehensive reform plan that includes a path to citizenship. For non-Latinos, the preferred path is an “earned” citizenship, which likely includes provisions regarding back taxes and learning English. But the bottom line is that the creation of a permanent alien class, guest workers or another form of residency that never turns into full social membership, is a non-starter.

In our June 2011 poll, 75% of Latino registered voters wanted a comprehensive approach with a path to citizenship while only 14% preferred a “guest worker” approach. In November of 2011, we asked the same question to a sample of all American registered voters, regardless of race and ethnicity. We found then that 58% of all registered voters (including 53% of self-identified Republicans) favored a path to citizenship, while only 14% preferred the guest worker approach and only 25% favored deportation. Curiously, Fox news repeated our question on their December 2011 poll and found the same results—although support for a path to citizenship was actually higher in Fox’s poll among all citizens and Republicans alike!

Immigration Policy Preferences


Latinos voters are simply not going to be happy with an outcome that keeps Latino immigrants on the margins of society. And if the GOP is identified as the key obstacle stopping a path to citizenship for Latino immigrants, the party will have accomplished little towards Sean Hannity’s goal of getting the issue behind them. Should the GOP lead a bill with too many punitive measures, or should the bill pass with little GOP support, any electoral advantage that might come to the GOP from moving the immigration issue forward could be lost or, worse, backfire.  Our election eve poll found that 31% of our respondents would be more likely to support a Republican if the party took the lead on reforming immigration.  Electoral benefits, alas, will require constructive action.

Reasonable, but not excessive, prerequisites to status adjustment: The debate over comprehensive immigration reform is also likely to produce considerable disagreement regarding the requirements to adjust status for those already living in the US without documents. In June 2011, we asked a sample of Latino registered voters what their views were with respect to several of the provisions debated in the 2006 and 2007 efforts.

Specific Immigration Reform Policy Preferences Among Latino Voters



Latino voters are very comfortable with requirements regarding old or outstanding taxes, criminal background checks, continuous residence in the US and the learning of English. The community is more or less evenly divided on a provision for directly fining people, and a majority oppose touch-back provisions that requires undocumented residents of the US to return to nations of origin to complete the paperwork process.

More generous treatment of “Dream”-eligible youth. By now, the polling in all aspect of American society is well understood. Americans by very large margins are uncomfortable and unhappy with subjecting minors with punitive measures when they committed no violation of their own. In November of 2011, 58% of all voters regardless of race or ethnicity supported the Dream Act, compared with only 28% opposed. Among Latinos, the numbers were 84% support to 11% opposition.

The Dream Act as a stand-alone measure is popular but would not, by itself, solve the GOP problem with Latino voters. In the presence of a more comprehensive reform, however, young people brought to the US by their parents, who are achieving, should receive more favorable treatment under a comprehensive plan.

Majorities of all Americans, even a majority of all Republicans, favor a comprehensive approach to immigration reform that includes a path to US citizenship. Similarly, large majorities of all Americans see immigrant youth—blameless for their presence is the US –deserve more favorable treatment. And there is considerable consensus among Latino voters regarding reasonable requirements for status adjustment.

Study Finds Asian Americans Have Lower Rates of Voter ID Possession in Texas

By Gabriel Sanchez, Ph.D.

Last week the Department of Justice blocked the Texas photo-identification law that requires voters in the state to show a state issued photo-ID to vote, stating that the state of Texas failed to demonstrate that the law is not discriminatory by design against Hispanic voters. This follows a similar move in December by the Justice Department to block South Carolina’s new photo-ID law on the grounds that it disproportionately impacted African American voters. The intense legal debate surrounding these laws has only escalated as we approach the 2012 election, as critics contend that these laws will have a negative impact on the turnout of Democratic voters.

The Texas case is based on the requirement of the Voting Rights Act that jurisdictions that have a history of suppressing minority voting, such as Texas, must provide evidence that any changes to voting rules would not have a disproportionate effect on minority voters. This is an important difference from the Crawford v. Marion County Election Board decision of the Supreme Court which upheld the stringent photo identification policy for voters of Indiana, but did not involve the higher standards of the Voting Rights Act.

In May of 2011 we posted a blog to Latino Decisions focused on the question of … whether minority voters across the United States are less likely to have access to the forms of identification required by many of these new laws. In that report our findings focused on 2008 survey data indicated that Latino, African American, and Asian American voters were all less likely to have an “up to date” driver’s license or state issued identification card.  The purpose of this brief blog report is to isolate the Texas respondents from the 2008 survey in an effort to determine whether the Texas law will disproportionately impact minority voters.

Access to Valid ID in Texas

To determine the relative possession of valid forms of identification we rely on the Collaborative Multi-Racial Political Study (2008), a national telephone survey (n= 4,563) of registered voters who were likely to vote in the 2008 presidential election. This analysis isolates respondents from the Texas sample (n=569). In this survey, we ask likely voters if they currently had a valid driver’s license or state issued photo-ID. Respondents are then asked if this ID is not expired, and if the name and address on that ID matches that on their voter registration record. Thus, we are able to provide a strong assessment of how many likely voters within the electorate lack acceptable photo-identification as defined by the Texas law. Furthermore, with over-samples of African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinos, this data-set provides the ideal instrument to test whether access to photo-identification varies across race, ethnicity, and nativity.

It is important to note that the research design focuses on registered and likely voters. This is an ideal population for this analysis, as those found to be lacking valid identification are likely to attempt to vote in upcoming elections, and thus will be impacted by more stringent voting requirements. This, however, ensures that the data will provide a conservative estimate of citizens who lack valid identification, as likely voters typically have greater resources than non-voter. Please see for more information about this survey.

The overwhelming majority of likely voters in Texas state that they have a “driver’s license or state-issued identification card” when asked this initial question. However, there are some important racial and ethnic differences, with 98% of whites, 96% of Latinos, 93% of African American, and 92% of Asian American likely voters having this most basic form of identification.Furthermore, when we dig deeper in our inquiry and explore the frequency of ownership of valid identification across more stringent requirement levels, a greater segment of the Texas electorate reports not having the required form of identification. As illustrated in the table below, when asked if they are certain that their driver’s license or state-issued identification card “is up to date and not expired,” a requirement of the Texas law, the percentage who have this “valid” form of identification drops to 96% among whites, 93% among African Americans, and 91% among both Latinos and Asians.

The Texas law also requires that the name on the identification presented at the voting booth match the name on the precinct list of registered voters. This may be difficult for some segments of the Texas electorate, including registered voters who have changed their name after marriage. Respondents were therefore asked if the name that is printed on their driver’s license or state-ID card is “exactly as it would appear” on the Texas voter registration record. As depicted in the table below, fewer minority voters (relative to whites) possess a photo-identification that would meet this more stringent standard. Specifically, we find that 91% of white voters, 88% of Latino, 87% of Asian, and 84% of African American likely voters have a photo-ID with a name that exactly matches the voter registration record.

The final table provided below provides the distribution of the Texas electorate who have a photo-ID that not only is current and with a name that matches the voter registration record, but that also has an address that matches the voter registration list. Although this more stringent requirement is not currently required by the Texas law, it is the standard set by many states that have or are planning to pass more stringent voting procedures. When this final requirement is added to the research design, a much larger percentage of likely voters would be impacted. As depicted below, 89% of white, 86% of Latino and Asian, and only 76% of African American voters have a photo-ID that would allow them to vote if this most rigid set of requirements were implemented in Texas.

In summary, the disparities in current possession of a “valid” driver’s license or state issued ID as defined by the Texas statute seem to violate the principle of equal protection through the Voting Rights Act. Our data reveals that a sizable segment of Latino, Asian, and African American voters will need to overcome additional hurdles if the courts uphold the Texas photo-ID law. For example, those lacking the required identification may need to purchase a copy of their birth certificate to obtain a valid state issued identification card. Furthermore, the time costs required to go to a state department to obtain a state issued ID, or a driver’s license office for a new driver’s license. As we note in our prior post, when the costs associated with voting are increased we consistently see a drop in turnout, particularly among vulnerable segments of the population.

Our results are in line with the data provided by the state of Texas, which appears to show a large disparity in Latino access to the required identification when compared to non-Hispanic whites. However, our data also suggests that other groups, including African Americans and Asians will be negatively impacted by the law as well. In fact, the gap between white and Black voter access to “valid” identification may be even wider in Texas than that between Latinos and whites. We, therefore, conclude that the costs associated with implementation of the more stringent photo-identification law in Texas appear to be greater than the perceived benefit of preventing fraud.

While we strongly support laws that improve the integrity of our election system, voter-ID laws are creating barriers to participation that are having disproportionate impacts on lower-resource citizens.  Indeed, as research by Prof. Lori Minnite has shown, the occurrence of voter fraud whereby people ineligible to vote, fake their way into voting is extremely rare. Instead, we argue that more attention should be given to those areas where election fraud is more likely to exist, such as the point of contact between the ballot and officials counting the vote, absentee voting and registration fraud.

Gabriel R. Sanchez is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of New Mexico and Research Director for Latino Decisions.

Do Immigrants Actually Make Us Less Safe?

By Christopher Lyons and Maria Vélez, University of New Mexico

Advocates for more punitive immigration laws often argue that there is a correlation between immigration and crime, thus contending that securing our borders will make our neighborhoods safer. Consequently, several states have passed laws that allow police to check the immigration status of individuals they stop for other reasons, and in the case of Alabama, arrest anyone who knowingly gives an illegal immigrant a ride.  Our most recent poll indicates that a majority (67%) of the Latino electorate disapprove of laws that would require state and local police to check on immigration status, and approve (62%) of laws that would block state and local police from policing immigration status. To clarify the relationship between immigration and crime, we have asked Criminologists Christopher Lyons and Maria Velez (both from UNM) to draw from their research in this blog post.

Do Immigrants Actually Reduce Crime?

Since the early waves of immigration in the late 1800’s, public opinion and political rhetoric have often equated both legal and illegal immigrants with an array of social problems, ranging from drug and alcohol use to serious violence. According to data from the 2000 General Social Survey (NORC), about 73 percent of respondents agree that immigration leads to increased crime in the U.S. This assumption implies that stricter policies that limit future immigration and curb access to programs and resources for immigrants already in the U.S. are effective crime control strategies. Indeed, supporters of anti-immigrant policies, including Arizona’s recent SB 1070, often explicitly argue that tougher immigration laws and punitive anti-immigrant stances will translate to reductions in community violence.

But does immigration really lead to more crime in our communities? According to most social science research, the answer is “NO.” A growing body of research repeatedly finds that communities with more immigrants actually have less violence than otherwise expected (Martinez 2006; Sampson 2006; Wadsworth 2010).  This finding is relatively robust across cross-sectional and longitudinal designs at the individual, neighborhood, and city levels.

Contrary to the arguments of pundits and to public opinion, scholars typically suggest that rather than destabilize communities, immigrants “revitalize” neighborhoods because they fortify processes related to crime control. When immigrants move into communities they can strengthen relationships among residents, invigorate local ethnic economies, and help to expand community institutions such as churches, schools, and immigrant-focused agencies. Social science research suggests that immigrants are “good news” for communities, especially in the relatively poor communities where the vast majority of recent immigrants reside, and challenges popular assumptions that stricter anti-immigration stances are an answer to America’s crime problem.

Despite growing consensus in social science about the beneficial impact of immigration for neighborhood safety, we know less about the broader contexts that might influence the ability of immigrants to reduce neighborhood violence. Immigration scholars have long suggested that city characteristics vary in ways that are consequential for immigrant incorporation (Portes and Rumbaut 2006). We ask whether the capacity of immigrants to revitalize neighborhoods depends on a city’s ability to receive and support new immigrants. Drawing on prominent theories of minority political incorporation and collective organization, we emphasize the importance of “immigrant opportunity structures”—the political, social, and economic environments that promote the advancement of immigrant concerns and facilitate the incorporation of immigrants. We expect that relatively “open” city regimes with greater opportunity structures—characterized by open government arrangements, liberal ideologies, resources for mobilization on behalf of immigrant demands, and minority political incorporation in elected offices—are best able to incorporate recent immigrants, and to encourage or facilitate the revitalization capacity of immigrants at the neighborhood level. Consequently, reduced immigrant opportunity structures in some cities may diminish the revitalization capacity of immigrants.

Research Design and Findings

We address these questions with the first large-scale dataset that includes violence and socio-demographic information for almost 9,000 neighborhoods within a representative sample of U.S. cities (89 cities with populations of more than 100,000 in the year 2000) (Peterson and Krivo 2010). The large sample of cities and neighborhoods generalizes to most urban places and includes traditional immigrant gateway and non-gateway cities.  Although we control for a number of key predictors of neighborhood violence, we concentrate on the association between neighborhood homicide levels (the most serious and reliably reported indicator of violence) and the percent of the population who is foreign born and entered the U.S. within the last 10 years. We append this dataset with numerous measures of city openness to immigrants and immigrant political opportunities collected from a variety of secondary sources.  We highlight three indicators of immigrant opportunity structures here.  First, as a measure of more immigrant-friendly policy climates, we consider whether cities are “sanctuary cities” that have at least one law or resolution that limits the local enforcement of immigration laws.[1]  Second, we measure the extent of minority political representation in municipal offices with the rate of Latino and Asian elected officials per 1,000 Latinos and Asians in a city.[2]  Third, we capture minority bureaucratic incorporation with a ratio of the percent of the police force (sworn officers) who are Hispanic or Black and the percent of the city population who are Hispanic or Black.[3]

Consistent with the revitalization hypothesis and contrary to much public discourse, our multivariate, multilevel analyses reveals that the relationship between percent recent immigrant and neighborhood homicide, on average, is negative across the nearly 9,000 neighborhoods in our dataset. Figure 1 shows the average relationship between percent recent immigrants and neighborhood homicide levels for 89 of the largest cities in the US, holding constant a variety of other covariates at the neighborhood and city levels. However, the magnitude of the “protective” relationship varies substantially across cities. For example, as Figure 2 illustrates, the negative association between immigration and homicide is limited to those sanctuary cities that have taken relatively pro-immigration stances (about 25% of our sample); in non-sanctuary cities, immigration has no meaningful impact on homicide.

We also find that neighborhoods in cities with greater political incorporation of Asians and Latinos into elected municipal offices benefit most from immigration (Figure 3), although even in cities with average or low levels of minority political incorporation, neighborhood immigration still lead to less homicide. Similarly, the incorporation of minorities into law enforcement also influences the association between neighborhood immigration and homicide. As shown in Figure 4, the negative association between neighborhood immigration and homicide is strongest in cities with higher levels of descriptive representation of minorities in police departments.

Conclusions and Implications

These findings suggest that the protective association between recent immigrants and neighborhood violence is enhanced in cities with more open immigrant opportunity structures.  Contrary to public opinion and political rhetoric, our research joins a chorus of others in suggesting that immigrants might make us safer. However, the ability of immigration to translate into less violence partly depends on the socio-political climates of immigrant reception. We suggest that punitive policies being enacted in many states may, ironically, decrease the potential benefits of immigration for our communities.  By marginalizing newcomers, less open regimes may set in motion constraints to immigrant incorporation and prosperity that may have less-than-ideal consequences for community viability.

How do we make sense of the long standing disconnect between the vast majority of social science research and punitive stances that invoke the notion of immigrant criminality?  Certainly, some immigrants do commit serious crimes, but the vilification of immigrants as criminogenic largely represents a “symbolic crusade” driven by fear and anxiety about the changing fabric of our communities. We need to understand the consequences of symbolic crusades against immigrants for our communities and for immigrants themselves.  Social and political restrictions on immigrant incorporation marginalize individuals and may also undermine the safety of our communities more broadly. In the end, we join the call for evidence-based immigration policies rather than policies and social climates based on fear and unfounded assumptions of immigrant criminality.

Christopher Lyons and Maria Velez are both Assistant Professors of Sociology at the University of New Mexico.

Literature Cited in Blog Post

Martinez , Ramiro, Jr. 2006. “Coming to America: The Impact of the New Immigration on Crime.” Pp 1-19 in Immigration and Crime: Race, Ethnicity, and Violence, eds. R. Martinez Jr. and A. Valenzuela Jr. New York: New York University Press.

Peterson, Ruth D. and Lauren J. Krivo. 2010. The National Neighborhood Crime Study, 2000 [Computer file]. ICPSR27501-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor]. doi:10.3886/ICPSR27501

Portes, Alejandro and R. G. Rumbaut. 2006. Immigrant America: A Portrait. Berkeley: Univeristy of California Press.

Sampson, Robert J. 2006. ‘‘Open Doors Don’t Invite Criminals: Is Increased Immigration Behind the Drop in Crime?’’ New York Times March 11:A27.

Wadsworth, Tim. 2010. Is Immigration Responsible for the Crime Drop? An Assessment of the Influence of Immigration on Changes in Violent Crime between 1990 and 2000. Social Science Quarterly 91:531-553.


[1] The National Immigration Law Center provides data on whether cities have statutes that limit enforcement of immigration law.

[2]   The 2000 National Association of Latino Elected Officials directory and the 2000 National Asian and Pacific American Political Almanac provide data on elected municipal officials.  Population estimates for Latinos and Asian Americans come from the 2000 Census (STF 3A).

[3]   The Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics (2000) survey provide data on sworn police officers.   Population estimates for Latinos and African Americans come from the 2000 Census (STF 3A).

The Disproportionate Impact of Photo-ID Laws on the Asian American Electorate

By Gabriel R. Sanchez, Stephen A. Nuño, and Matt A. Barreto

Following the Crawford v. Marion County Election Board decision of the Supreme Court which upheld the stringent photo-identification policy for voters in Indiana, several other states have or are considering similar reforms to their election laws. Most recently, Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina signed the state’s photo-ID bill into law, making South Carolina the tenth state to adopt this type of voter identification legislation. According to the National Conference of State Legislators, a total of 33 states have considered adding or strengthening voter identification requirements this year, and 28 states already have broader requirements than what HAVA mandates. Among these states, the Texas House just passed legislation requiring voters to show photo identification before being able to vote, sending the bill to Governor Rick Perry who is likely to sign this legislation into law shortly. Similar legislation was unsuccessful in New Mexico’s legislative session, but given that this is a high priority of the new Republican Governor (Susana Martinez), it is likely that this will not be the final vote on this issue in the majority-Latino state.

In this post we draw from some of our recent academic research to address one specific point: Does access to required forms of identification vary by racial/ethnic group in the population. In 2007 we presented a paper at the American Political Science Association conference finding minorities would be disadvantaged by strict identification laws. In 2009 we published a research paper in PS: Political Science & Politics which found that under Indiana’s photo-ID law, African Americans were significantly less likely to have the proper credentials to register or vote.  Here, we re-examine this question with a new national dataset of registered voters following the 2008 election, and find that minority and foreign-born voters are less likely to have a valid photo-ID. Therefore, these laws place a disproportionate and additional cost to voting for specific segments of the electorate.

Does Access to Required Forms of Identification Vary Across the Population?

We contend that while instilling greater confidence in our election system (the primary benefit of Photo-ID laws) is a worthwhile goal, it is equally important to examine the impact that more rigorous identification requirements may have on the law abiding electorate. In our research we hypothesize that adding photo-identification requirements would create a substantive barrier to voting for racial and ethnic minorities, as well as foreign-born voters. We base our theory on the clearly established relationship that institutional burdens to participation have on individuals who have fewer political resources.

Attempts to analyze the impact of restrictive laws on voter registration and turnout have consistently concluded that turnout rates are higher when costs associated with voting are low (see: Campbell et al. 1960; Wolfinger and Rosenstone 1980; Katosh andTraugott 1982; Jackson 1993; Blank 1974; Kim, Petrocik, and Enokson 1975; Bauer 1990). However, very little is known about the direct effects of voter identification laws.

To examine the impact of these specific institutional changes to the voting system we rely on the Collaborative Multi-Racial Political Study (2008), a national telephone survey (n= 4,563) of registered voters who were likely to vote in the 2008 presidential election. In this survey, we asked registered voters if they currently had a valid driver’s license or state issued photo-ID. Respondents were then asked if this ID was expired, if the name on that ID matched that on their voter registration record, and if the address on both the registration record and the ID matched. Thus, we are able to provide a strong assessment of how many currently registered voters within the electorate lack photo-identification.[1] Furthermore, with over-samples of African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinos, this data-set provides a key instrument to test whether access to photo-identification varies across race, ethnicity, and nativity.

As depicted in Figure 1 above, the vast majority of likely voters do indicate that they have a valid driver’s license or state issued identification card when queried. However, there is a meaningful difference in access by race, with a 9% gap between Asian American and White registered voters, a 6% gap between Latinos and Whites, and 5% gap between African American and White registered voters. Furthermore, when we dig deeper in our inquiry and explore the frequency of valid identification across more stringent requirement levels, greater disparities across racial and ethnic groups emerge. For example, when we identify respondents who meet all three requirements (see  criterion in above paragraph) that could now be required in states following the Indiana decision, we see a significant decrease in registered voters who have “valid” identification. As depicted in Figure 2, we see a similar racial and ethnic gap, with White respondents clearly having the highest rates of valid identification (88%), followed by Blacks and Latinos (both 81%), and Asian American (80%) registered voters.  Therefore, across all groups, it is clear that access to “valid” identification decreases significantly as we move to more stringent qualifications, yet Latinos, African Americans and Asian Americans are less likely to have a state issued ID that meets the criterion established by the Supreme Court. The gap between white and African American likely voters is very similar to what we have found previously in Indiana, and the gap between Latino and white voters similar to those found in three western states (CA, NM, WN).

Finally, in Figure 3 below we compare access to photo-identification that meets all three requirements by nativity among Latinos in our sample. Again, we see a gap in Latino voters who have a photo-identification with a name and address that matches their voter registration information between those who are foreign born (79%) and those who are 2nd generation U.S. born (81%) and 3rd generation U.S. born (85%). These trends are highly consistent with those we have identified in some of our earlier work focused on the states of California, New Mexico, and Washington, and support our theory that requiring photo-IDs would disproportionately impact voters with fewer resources. In our previous work, we found that foreign-born voters were less likely than US-born voters to have a driver’s license, even when we controlled for a host of other factors.

While the courts and now the Federal government have cleared certain photo-ID laws, the costs appear to be greater than the perceived benefits. While we strongly support laws that improve the integrity of our election system, voter-ID laws are creating barriers to participation that are having disproportionate impacts on lower-resource citizens.  Indeed, as research by Prof. Lori Minnite has shown, the occurrence of voter fraud whereby people ineligible to vote, fake their way into voting is extremely rare. Instead, we argue that more attention should be given to those areas where election fraud is more likely to exist, such as the point of contact between the ballot and officials counting the vote, absentee voting and registration fraud.

Gabriel R. Sanchez is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of New Mexico and Research Director for Latino Decisions. Stephen A. Nuño is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Northern Arizona University and a past contributor to the Latino Decisions blog. Matt A. Barreto is a co-founder of Latino Decisions and an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Washington. These three authors have collaborated on researching the effects of voter ID laws for the past five years.

[1] Our research design focuses on registered and likely voters. An ideal population for this analysis, as those found here to lack valid identification are likely to attempt to vote in upcoming elections, and thus will be impacted by more stringent voting requirements. This however ensures that our data will provide a conservative estimate of citizens who lack valid identification, as likely voters typically have greater resources than non-voters.

Works Cited in Post

Bauer, John R. 1990. “Patterns of Voter Turnout in the American States.” Social Science Quarterly 71: 824–34.

Blank, Robert H. 1974. “Socio-Economic Determinism of Voting Turnout: A Challenge.” Journal of Politics 36: 731–52.

Campbell, Angus, Philip E. Converse,Warren E. Miller, and Donald E.Stokes. 1960. The American Voter. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Jackson, Robert A. 1993. “Voter Mobilization in the 1986 Midterm Election.” Journal of Politics 55: 1081–99.

Katosh, John P., and Michael W. Traugott. 1982. “Costs and Values in the Calculus ofVoting.” American Journal of Political Science 26: 361.

Kim, Jae-On, John R. Petrocik, and Stephen N. Enokson. 1975. “Voter Turnout among the American States: Systemic and Individual Components.”American Political Science Review 69: 107–31.

Wolfinger, Raymond E., and Steven J. Rosenstone. 1980. Who Votes? New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.