Nearly 70 percent of Mexicans surveyed said that Mexican-Americans – including those born in the United States – owe their primary loyalty to Mexico, not the U.S., according to a Zogby poll commissioned by the Center for Immigration Studies.

The in-person poll, taken during August and September, sampled 1,004 Mexicans across the country on subjects related to illegal immigration and amnesty in the United States. When asked “Should the primary loyalty of Mexican-Americans be to Mexico or to the U.S.?” 68.8 percent of respondents in Mexico said that it should be to Mexico, while only 19.7 percent said it should be to the United States. Another 11.5 percent of respondents said they were not sure.

Steven Camarota, director of research at the CIS, told that the Spanish phrase translated as “Mexican-Americans” (“los estadounidenses de origen mexicano”) was carefully selected to ensure that respondents knew that it included those born in the U.S. He particularly stressed the Spanish word ‘estadounidenses.’ “It means ‘United States-ian’ — (that’s) how it translates,” he said, “and it’s understood by everyone in Mexico to include, clearly, people born in the United States of Mexican ancestry.”

Camarota also told that just over one-third of respondents (36 percent) said that they would come to the U.S., if they could. Of that group, 68 percent said they think that Mexican-Americans owe loyalty to Mexico over the United States. The data shows that the percentage of potential illegal immigrants who hold that belief is nearly identical to the percentage among the general Mexican population, Camarota said.

Other poll results centered on how Mexico itself would react to an amnesty in the United States — which was the reason for the poll, according to Camarota. “How an amnesty would be perceived or received in that country is important to think about if you’re arguing for legalization,” he noted. “That’s the number one reason we did it.”

The results clearly showed that illegal immigration tends to encourage more people to emigrate in the future. he said. “In Mexico, Mexicans overwhelmingly – especially those who have family here (in the U.S. )– overwhelmingly say that it (amnesty) would encourage illegal immigration in the future.”

In fact, 56.2 percent of respondents did indeed answer “more likely” when asked, “If the U.S. gave permanent legal status to undocumented immigrants (migrantes indocumentados), do you think it would make your friends and family members more likely or less likely to go to the U.S. as indocumentados, or would it make no difference?” Just over 16 percent said that it would make them less likely to come to the U.S., while 19.6 percent said that it would make no difference. Another 7.6 responded that they were not sure.

Camarota was careful to note the limitations of the poll. “It doesn’t tell us what Mexican-Americans think, it tells us what the expectation of Mexican-Americans is among Mexicans,” he said. Nevertheless, the poll does have its uses, he added. “(It) tells us what kind of society Mexican immigrants came out of, what the expectation is for those who go here,” Camarota told

He also said that, when asking which nation Mexican-Americans should be loyal to, “If you’re asking the question in Mexico, you don’t have to worry that people will give a guarded answer.”