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• LinkFile download After a wave of pro-immigrant street marches this spring – and with the debate over immigration policy still roiling the nation – a study released Thursday found that Latinos report they are facing more discrimination. More than half of the 2,000 Latino respondents to the survey – 54 percent – said they have seen an increase in discrimination as a result of the policy debate. They largely blame Republicans for stirring up an anti-immigrant backlash. But there’s also a greater sense of political unity among Latinos, the study by the Pew Hispanic Center found. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2A majority – 58 percent – of those polled by the center last month believe the marches ushered in a new social movement, one that they expect will last for years to come, the surveyshowed. About three-quarters of those surveyed – regardless of their birth place – said the marches would prompt more Latinos to vote in the November elections. “Clearly both the marches and the immigration debate have made deep impressions on Latino public opinion,” said Robert Suro, director of the Pew Hispanic Center and co-author of the study on Latino attitudes toward immigration. But Gabriel Escobar, co-author of the report, said it’s unclear whether the momentum will translate into votes for either party come November. The survey showed that a majority of Latinos believe the Republican Party is on the wrong side of the immigration debate. But those feelings did not translate into more Latinos registering as Democrats. The number of Latinos who believe the Republican Party has the best position on immigration dropped from 25 percent before the immigration debate began late last year to 16 percent last month. But the study also showed that the Democratic Party has not registered any significant gains in membership during that time. According to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 36 percent of Latinos are registered Democrats, compared to 22 percent registered as Republicans. That is down from the 41 percent of Latinos who listed their party affiliation as Democratic prior to 9/11. Jimmy Plancarta, a 17-year-old Whittier resident and high school student whose parents are from Mexico and Ecuador, said he has seen both increased discrimination since the marches and more unity among different Latino groups. “We are more united,” he said. “Before it was Mexicans with Mexicans and Salvadorans with Salvadorans. Now, we’re like this,” he said, crossing his fingers. But Plancarta said he has also encountered racially insensitive remarks. “Can you mow my lawn?” is a typical taunt, he said. El Monte resident Manuel Aquino, 73, a former “brasero” who came to America in 1948 as a legal migrant worker, then became a U.S. citizen in 1999, said Latinos who can vote should to help those here illegally – but through the ballot box. “People who can become citizens should help gain amnesty for others through their votes,” said Aquino, a registered Democrat. “This way, the government can investigate the background of applicants and make sure they are honest, law-abiding citizens.” Rashid Flores, 27, of Whittier believes the spring marches fostered a sense of hope among all Latinos. But Raul Ramirez, 25, of Pico Rivera thinks the protests had only a limited impact. “To be honest with you, protests can only do so much. It’s not up to protests to change something; it’s up to the legislators,” Ramirez said. “It’s probably brought people together, but will they stay together?”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!