Immigration Time Bomb About to Explode on GOP
The phenomenon is leading the country toward embracing the very thing President Thomas Jefferson abhorred: ever-bigger government.
And it’s coming from a seemingly harmless policy many Americans embrace.
The numbers don’t lie. The U.S. is experiencing an immigration explosion never before seen in its history:
- According to U.S. Census numbers, immigration averaged only 195,000 per year from 1921 through 1970.
- With the change in immigration law in 1965, immigration levels skyrocketed from an average of 250,000 to one million a year.
- The number of foreign-born persons in the U.S. has doubled from 1990 to 2010, almost tripled since 1980, and quadrupled since 1970.
- As of the last census in 2010, 40 million immigrants were in the U.S.
- Most estimates are that at least 11-to-12 million of those are illegal immigrants. However, some estimates put that figure as high as 38 million.
- Forty-million immigrants is about 13-percent of the total U.S. population of 320,009,000 the Census Bureau estimated on Jan 1, 2014.
- A recent report from the Congressional Research Service indicated the foreign-born population may increase by another 27.4 million people by 2022, climbing from 40.8 million in 2012 to 58.3 million after ten years.
After the release of new population projections by the U.S. Census Bureau earlier this month, most headlines focused on the news that whites will become a minority of Americans by 2044, when they will account for 49.7 percent of the population; Hispanics will be 25 percent; blacks will be 12.7 percent; Asians will be 7.9 percent; and 3.7 will be multiracial.
But the numbers only say what is happening, not why – and how the real story may not be the color of the immigrants’ skin but the content of their politics.
Researchers at the Center for Immigration Studies, or CIS, and the Eagle Forum say the data show immigrants tend to favor big government and vote Democratic, and that has numerous and significant ripple effects.
The key factors, according to their analysis:
- Current high levels of legal immigration are not the historic norm
- What matters isn’t race but the politics of countries of origin
- Immigration is changing the country to favor more big government
- Democrats are using immigration to increase their power
Most Americans appear to believe today’s immigration numbers are par for the course, historically. But the numbers actually reflect dramatic change since the 1930s, propelled by a crucial change to immigration law in 1965.
The result has been an immigration explosion unlike anything America has ever experienced.
A graph of the numbers over the years vividly illustrates just how different today’s astronomical immigration levels are from the historic norm.
Traditionally, the United States allowed relatively few immigrants to legally enter the country, with the exception of two great waves. During the first wave in the 1880s, almost six-million immigrants entered the country. The second wave hit a peak of 8.7 million a little more than 100 years ago. Today’s immigration level dwarfs the previous historic peaks and is ongoing and ever-increasing.
Why is immigration to America booming?
Analysts point to the dramatic changes made in immigration policy in 1965 when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Hart-Cellar Immigration Bill into law.
According to Steve Camarota of the Center for Immigration studies, or CIS, the 1965 changes unwittingly ushered in a new era of mass immigration.
Admission to the U.S under the old system depended mostly upon an immigrant’s country of birth. Seventy percent of immigration slots were reserved for those from the United Kingdom, Ireland and Germany, and mostly went unused.
That quota system (established in 1921 and most recently modified in 1952) was abolished in 1965, along with other various nationality criteria. Family reunification became the most important criterion for entry into the country. It was the first time relatives of American citizens were given higher preference than those with special job skills.
Camarota said the changes were not meant to increase or decrease immigration. In fact. proponents repeatedly denied the law would lead to a large and sustained increase in immigration. The law was portrayed as an extension of the civil rights movement in America, leveling the playing field for applicants.
Camarota told WND the reason immigration levels began to rise so swiftly after 1965 was due to a large extent on unintended consequences, which Democrats would later learn to use to their advantage.
One factor that drove the numbers was family sponsorship. Once immigrants could sponsor family members the immigration population grew. In turn, there were more people who could then sponsor more relatives, leading to a geometrical growth of immigrants.
CIS found another factor was the expansion of supposedly temporary provisions in the 1986 amnesty law and another expansion in 1990 that increased such things as foreign students and guest workers. The increased interaction between Americans and foreigners in the county led to more people who could marry, and a further expansion of sponsorships.
Politics of countries of origin
According to researchers, the difference in today’s immigrants is they largely come from countries with systems of government much more rooted in social-welfare philosophy than America.
“Basically, they like big government. They like Obamacare, gun control, they like rich paying more taxes, more environmental regulations. As citizens, they generally vote for the party with that orientation,” explained Camorata.
That’s backed up by a comprehensive study by Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, based on a compilation of census data and surveys including the Pew Research Center, the Pew Hispanic Center, Gallup, NBC News, Harris polling, the Annenberg Policy Center, Latino Decisions, the Center for Immigration Studies and the Hudson Institute.
The Forum’s survey found “most immigrants come from countries where the government plays a larger role in the economy and society. Their support for expansive government is reinforced by liberal elites in immigrant communities and the liberal urban areas in which so many settle.”
According to the study, 71 percent of voting-age Hispanics and 9 percent of voting-age Asians were either foreign born or had at least one foreign-born parent, and the data showed those voters skewed heavily to the left.
For instance, “Pew Research Center has found that 55 percent of Hispanics have a negative view of capitalism, the highest of any group surveyed. Pew also found that 75 percent of Hispanics prefer a bigger government providing more services, as do 55 percent of Asian-Americans. This compares to just 41 percent of the general public.”
“While the general public was divided in 2012 on Obamacare, 66 percent of Hispanics support it; and three times as many Asian Americans had a favorable opinion of the program as had an unfavorable opinion of it.”
Additionally, contrary to assertions by many Republican politicians who favor amnesty, the research showed most immigrants were not socially conservative.
For example, U.S.-born Hispanics and Asians tended to support abortion and gay rights, while foreign-born Hispanics and Asians were divided.
The study concluded, “more importantly, polls show that immigrants and their children do not vote for candidates based on social issues. Polls indicate that Republicans’ social conservatism does not particularly help or hurt them with voters in immigrant communities.”
The survey also found Hispanics and Asians were not alone in their liberalism, as the data for other immigrants, including Europeans and Muslims, indicated they also had views to the left of the average American voter.
The same pattern was discovered in all Western democracies, with immigrants and their adult children strongly favoring leftist parties.
Immigration is changing the country to favor more big government
The Eagle Forum study’s key conclusion is that immigration is changing the country’s politics by moving the electorate to the left:
“Because immigrants and their adult children overwhelmingly favor big government, there is no issue more important for conservatives than reducing the future number of legal immigrants allowed into the country each year. Otherwise, legal immigration will continue to add millions of liberal voters every decade, making it extremely unlikely that conservatives will be successful on all the issues they care about.”
With Hispanics and Asians now accounting for the bulk of immigrants, their views on the role of government have become increasingly relevant.
Their striking preference for big government was illustrated in this graph, included in the Eagle Forum report:
Camarota told WND another reason why immigration is such a boon to the Democrats is that it transforms society in ways that makes their arguments heard all the more sympathetically.
One obvious factor is that mass immigration from poor countries significantly increases the number of poor in America, and the poor tend to vote Democratic.
“One third of all the children in poverty today are in immigrant families. So, you have a much larger low-income population, especially children,” noted Camorata.
That leads to liberal arguments for greater government programs that even independents and moderates might find appealing.
“People naturally say, ‘Well, we’ve got to do something about it; those families obviously need help.’”
Camorata noted, as mass immigration dramatically increased the number of low-income workers, there was more pressure to expand specific government programs.
“People say, ‘We gotta help them. Let’s increase the value of the earned income tax credit. Make sure all their kids can get Medicaid.’ That’s exactly the way its played out politically over the last 25 years all these low-income workers with kids. ‘Let’s expand Head Start, let’s have universal pre-K, let’s make sure everyone can get WIC and SNAP (the programs that replaced food stamps), Medicaid, those kinds of things.”
Camorata maintained that the need for government assistance is one reason that even the immigrants who may have socially conservative views do not vote conservative.
He cited the examples of New York and San Francisco, “probably two of the most heavily immigrant-settled places in the country and they vote overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party. They (immigrants) can be opposed to everything from handing out condoms to gay marriage to subsidized abortion and it doesn’t bother them (to vote for Democrats.)”
“They can be enthusiastic Democrats right alongside the most extreme elements of the liberal social agenda of the Democratic Party. So, what they’re telling us is, these are issues they generally don’t care about or agree with,” and that socially conservative issues do not really resonate with immigrants.
Camorata believes Republicans compound the problem by convincing themselves otherwise.
Even though many conservatives believe, based on the weight of their arguments, they can persuade immigrants to move to the right, Camorata said experience suggests otherwise.
“People who leave New York state because of its oppressive regulations and so forth, when they get to North Carolina, they vote for those same policies.”
Camarota does believe voters in the rest of the electorate could be persuaded that legal immigration is a severe problem.
“If Republicans were to explain why it’s problematic for taxpayers, why it’s making the country so much more densely populated and how that impacts their standard of living, what it means for American workers, there’s no question the public would respond.”
He insisted he Republicans could use the explosion of immigration issue against the Democrats, “But rather than persuading people it will lead to a more liberal agenda, they choose instead to please the electorate.”
Additionally, he notes, the time to make that argument is running short, because the legal immigration population is three times bigger than illegal immigrants, and a good portion of them vote.
And soon, he predicts, so will those who are currently illegal immigrants.
Democrats are using immigration to increase their power
The Eagle Forum study succinctly concludes that Democrats understand immigration is an electoral bonanza for liberalism.
While finding most Republicans reluctant to directly address the partisan implications of mass immigration, “Democrats have been quite open about how much immigration is improving their ability to win elections by importing massive numbers of liberal voters.”
The report cites Eliseo Medina, a top official with both the Service Employees International Union and Democratic Socialists of America, as explaining how the expansion of the Democrat electorate through immigration “will solidify and expand the progressive coalition for the future.”
Even though the study claims mass immigration tends to harm those the Democratic Party traditionally has claimed to want to help, such as less-educated workers and minorities, “[I]mmigrants’ liberalism often reflects self-interest, as many benefit from affirmative action and welfare.”
Camorata illustrated that with the real-world example of the health-care debate.
“What was one of the chief justifications for Obamacare? Thirty-five million people without health insurance, and that number’s up 15 million since 1990. See what I mean? It’s really, really helpful to have all those low-income people, all those uninsured people, when you want to make an argument for more expansive government. And, the beauty of it is, you also increase the number of voters who are sympathetic to that argument.”
He described how the government uses the Current Population Survey primarily to get data on who doesn’t have health insurance, and the survey asks whether a person is an immigrant and when he or she came to America.
Camorota said that makes it very easy to calculate the impact of immigrants and their children on the total uninsured population. And for the last decade-and-a-half, two-thirds to three-quarters of the growth of the uninsured has been immigrants and their children.
“It is perfectly accurate to say that the nation’s health insurance crisis is being directly driven by its immigration policy.”
When did Democrats realize mass immigration was a leftist boon that could be exploited at the polls?
“By the 1980s, people in the Democratic Party realized what was happening. Prior to that, they weren’t sure how the immigrants were going to vote. But then I think they realized these were people who largely were in need of public services.”
Compounding the situation, establishment Republicans have supported amnesty and mass immigration in a perhaps quixotic effort to woo foreign-born voters away from Democrats.
A case in point is former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the first Republican to indicate he will run for president in 2016.
However, his reference to “our immigration heritage” would seem to be undercut by the Eagle Forum findings that high levels of immigration are not the historic norm.
Carmorata attributes the common misperception that immigration levels traditionally have been high to simple ignorance.
“If you were to ask the average Republican or Democratic members of Congress how many legal immigrants there are, they couldn’t guess. If you were to tell them there are 30 million legal immigrants in the U.S., that’s one out of every 10 adults in the U.S. They would be surprised.”
He also attributed the misconception to sentimentality.
“Folks remember Great-Grandma from Minsk; she was a wonderful person. There’s a certain kind of reflexive sentimentality that is probably very ahistorical that doesn’t reflect the actual impact of those immigrants, and would be not particularly relevant to the current situation.”
He said, back then the government was spending 4 or 5 percent of the GDP on immigrants at every level of government, whereas now it is more like 35 percent.
The Eagle Forum study indicated another comment by Bush to be a common misconception when he said “[I]f we want to be young and dynamic again we have to make legal immigration easier than illegal immigration.”
The study found, “Immigrants age like everyone else and their fertility is not that much higher than that of the native-born population,” citing a “Census Bureau conclusion based on projections done in 2000 that immigration is a ‘highly inefficient’ means for increasing the percentage of the population that is of working age in the long run.”
The study also cited a 1992 article in Demography, “the leading academic journal in the field,” which found “constant inflows of immigrants, even at relatively young ages, do not necessarily rejuvenate low-fertility populations. In fact, immigration may even contribute to population aging.”
Another reason often cited as to why establishment Republicans support amnesty and increased legal immigration is pressure from corporate interests to provide ever-cheaper labor.
Camarota noted, “I would say there’s a lot of bipartisanship on immigration. It reflects the stupidity of the Republican party and maybe the indifference to American workers and taxpayers of the Democratic Party.”
And, given public misconceptions about immigration, someone such as House Majority Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, isn’t politically compelled to oppose amnesty or mass immigration.
However, Camatora is mystified as to why such a fiscally conservative congressman such as Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., “can’t see the desire for smaller government is entirely in conflict with mass immigration.”
“Why Ryan can’t see it, I have no idea.”
He notes there is a school of thought in the GOP that the way to manage mass immigration is with guest workers, but said that has been proven not to work, historically.
“They think this is a way of getting labor without letting them vote. Of course, everybody knows, it will result in large-scale permanent settlement, but the Republicans kind of convince themselves it won’t.”
“Some people will want to go back, but we also know that in every single society that’s ever tried to have a guest worker program from a poor country to a rich country, it’s only resulted in large-scale, permanent settlement over time.”
He pointed to the experience of France with North Africans, Germany and Pakistanis and South Asians, Great Britain and its former colonies and the U.S. with its bracero program with Mexico.
One last factor Camorata noted was that throughout the Western world immigrants have been largely perceived as racial or ethnic minorities, and, as progressive or liberal parties perceive themselves to be the parties of the minorities, immigrants have tended to gravitate their way.
The Eagle Forum study also concluded, “Unfortunately, some immigrants are also attracted to the Democratic Party’s support for identity- and grievance-based politics.”
The ethnic-minority status of most immigrants, Camarota said, has led Republicans to fear opposition to immigration would be perceived as bigotry.
He called that fear “palpable” within the GOP, which leads them to see support for immigration as a way of combating the bigotry label.
“It allows people like Ryan to say yes I oppose affirmative action, yes I oppose all those social programs that are heavily supported by black and Hispanic voters, but I’m not a bigot because I want mass immigration.”
In conclusion, the Eagle Forum report found “the factors contributing to immigrants’ liberalism are largely outside of the Republican Party’s control.”
The only solution, it maintained, was not for Republicans to embrace immigration but to try and reduce it and to educate voters about its effects.
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