WASHINGTON - The national political backlash against illegal immigration has created new divisions among Latinos and heightened their concerns about discrimination against members of their ethnic group-including those who were born in the United States or who immigrated legally.
About four-in-five of the nation's estimated 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants are of Hispanic origin. A new national survey by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center, finds that Latinos are divided over what to do with these immigrants. A small majority (53%) says they should pay a fine but not be deported. A small minority (13%) says they should be deported, and a larger minority (28%) says they should not be punished.
Hispanics are also divided about the impact of illegal immigration on Hispanics already living in the U.S. Roughly equal shares say the impact has been positive (29%), negative (31%) or made no difference (30%). This mixed judgment stands in sharp contrast to views that Latinos expressed on this subject in 2007. Back then, fully half (50%) of Latinos said the impact was positive, while just 20% said it was negative.
Today, more than six-in-ten (61%) Latinos say that discrimination against Hispanics is a "major problem," up from 54% who said that in 2007. Asked to state the most important factor leading to discrimination, a plurality of 36% now cites immigration status, up from a minority of 23% who said the same in 2007. Back then, a plurality of respondents-46%-identified language skills as the biggest cause of discrimination against Hispanics.
In the new survey, Latinos are also split over whether immigrant and native-born Latinos are working together to achieve common political goals. About half (45%) say they are, and half (46%) say they are not. Both the native born (who comprise 47% of the adult Latino population) and the foreign born (who comprise 53%) are roughly equally divided on their perceptions of political solidarity.
The native born and foreign born have different views on many topics explored in the survey. For example, seven-in-ten (70%) foreign-born Latinos say discrimination against Hispanics is a major problem preventing Latinos from succeeding in America. Less than half (49%) of the native born agree. And when it comes to their views of immigrants, fewer than seven-in-ten native-born Hispanics say immigrants strengthen the country, while 85% of immigrant Hispanics say the same.
At 47 million strong, Latinos are the nation's largest minority group, comprising nearly 15% of the total U.S. population. Some 38% of all Latinos are immigrants, and an estimated 19% are unauthorized immigrants.
While the survey finds differences among Latinos on several questions related to illegal immigration, it also finds many points of broad agreement-especially when it comes to enforcement policies and proposals.
For example, fully 86% of Latinos support providing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants if they pass background checks, pay a fine and have jobs, a level of support far greater than among the general public (68%). Among Latinos, about eight-in-ten (82%) of the native born and nine-in-ten (90%) of the foreign born say they support providing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
On birthright citizenship, nearly eight-in-ten (78%) Latinos say the Constitution should be left as is, compared with 56% of the general public who say the same. And when it comes to who should enforce the nation's immigration laws, more than three-quarters (77%) Latinos say it should be the exclusive responsibility of federal authorities, while just 15% say the local police should play a more active role. On both questions, the native born and the foreign born hold similar views.
Finally, the vast majority of Latinos-79%-disapprove of the first-of-its-kind Arizona law enacted this year that gives police broad powers to check the immigration status of people they stop for other reasons whom they suspect may be in this country illegally. By contrast, the general population approves of the measure by a ratio of two-to-one.
These and many other findings emerge from a new national survey of 1,375 Latino adults conducted by landline and cellular telephone, in English and Spanish, from August 17 through September 19, 2010. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points for the full sample and larger for subgroups.
 A slightly different question was asked three years ago. In 2007, survey respondents were asked about the impact of the "growing number of undocumented or illegal immigrants" on Latinos in the U.S. In 2010, since the number of unauthorized immigrants residing in the U.S. has fallen (Passel and Cohn, 2010), the question instead asked about the effect of "undocumented or illegal immigration."
 Implementation of many parts of the new law has been stayed pending a hearing on a lawsuit brought by the federal government, which contends it is unconstitutional.