Ethnic Asians are far more likely than Latinos to oppose special government programs for immigrants and to favor sanctions against hiring illegal residents, a new California survey indicates.
The poll by Bruce E. Cain and D. Roderick Kiewiet, associate professors of political science at the California Institute of Technology, also shows that Asian immigrants are more likely to support President Reagan and to call themselves Republicans.
Cain and Kiewiet said they designed their survey after observing Democratic efforts, particularly by presidential candidate Jesse Jackson, to unite various minorities under the party's banner. Relations between some minorities have been studied, they said, but "Asian-Latino relations are less well understood because interactions between them are more recent."
The poll indicates that ethnic Asians do not believe they share the problems facing blacks and Latinos or need traditionally Democratic-sponsored programs to help them. Cain and Kiewiet note that only 29 percent of Asian discrimination complaints in the poll were job- or housing-related, compared to 59 percent for blacks and 44 percent for Latinos.
The term "ethnic Asian" is used to describe any person of Asian descent who is living in this country.
Mike Woo, the first Asian American to win a seat on the Los Angeles City Council, said he was not surprised by poll results showing that 67 percent of ethnic Asians, but only 36 percent of Latinos, voted for Reagan in 1984.
"They see him as a strong anticommunist," Woo said, noting that many ethnic Korean, Vietnamese and Chinese voters have seen communism firsthand in their native countries. "Another factor is their strong pro-business attitude."
Woo, a Democrat, suggested that the predominance of Democrats among elected Asian-Americans may be attributed to their concentration in areas with large numbers of other minorities who tend to vote Democratic. But he said he expects to see Republican ethnic Asians elected from Korean and Vietnamese neighborhoods.
Ethnic Asians supported employer sanctions against hiring illegal aliens by 51 percent to 34 percent, compared to Latino opposition of 42 percent to 40 percent. Whites and blacks supported sanctions by somewhat wider margins than did Asians. All ethnic groups in the survey supported amnesty for illegal aliens already in the country, but the margin among ethnic Asians was only 43 percent to 33 percent, compared to 61 percent to 20 percent for Latinos.
Latinos may oppose such sanctions in part because most Latino immigrants to this country arrive illegally, according to government figures, while the proportion of illegal immigrants among new Asian arrivals is very small.
The same Asian-Latino split occurred on bilingual issues. Ethnic Asians supported bilingual education 51 percent to 40 percent, far less than the 69 percent to 22 percent support from Latinos and 63 percent to 25 percent support from blacks. Whites were opposed, 51 percent to 42 percent.
Monterey Park City Council member Lily Lee Chen said the split may be explained in part by media accounts that tend to describe bilingual programs as aimed at Spanish speakers and put little emphasis on help available for Asian-language speakers.
Latinos supported bilingual ballots, 60 percent to 31 percent, as did blacks, 49 percent to 38 percent. Asians opposed such ballots, 50 percent to 43 percent; whites opposed them by 67 percent to 29 percent. Of those surveyed, 43 percent of Latinos and 47 percent of Asians said they usually don't speak English at home.
The phone survey reached a random sampling of people from California census tracts, with some Koreans added. The interviewers called 593 Latinos, 305 Asians, 335 blacks and 409 whites.