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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

NYT: CURRENT ANTI-IMMIGRATION MOVEMENT TRACKS FAILED MOVEMENTS OF THE PAST

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The Times has a really interesting story this morning giving a historic overview of anti-immigrant movements in past generations and how none of them - even ones much larger than today - actually altered elections. One interesting passage may explain why Americans are not buying in to the rhetoric:

Mr. Rauchway, the historian, argues that the ultimate failure of
anti-immigrant politics is part of a larger failure of class-based
politics in the United States. Running against the rich -- or the poor --
has rarely worked in this country. Instead, immigrant-bashing has been
most successful when it tapped into broader racial fears, as it did in
both the 1850s and the 1920s. Notably, the economy was booming in the
'20s.



"As it becomes less and less acceptable to be racist,"
Mr. Rauchway said, "immigration is not going to be as politically
effective."



Polling data supports this argument. In a New York
Times/CBS News poll conducted last May -- in the midst of the debate
over the immigration bill -- 57 percent of respondents said that most
recent immigrants contributed to this country, up from 34 percent when
the question was asked in 1986. Only 28 percent in last year's poll
said that most immigrants caused problems, down from 44 percent in
1986. The Gallup Poll also shows increasing sympathy for immigrants.

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Comments

  1. Another Voice's Avatar
    Good article and a good example that history tends to repeat itself. Hopefully at some point humans will learn that racism and nativism are not good for any society.
  2. rajeev's Avatar
    Well.. very nice. But I doubt it there is a cure for bureaucratic indifference and inefficiency. It doesn't take malice to mess up the lives of millions of immigrants.
  3. Georg Chell's Avatar
    The 1924 restrictions were associated with the prevalence of racism in this country, which brings me to the point that I have been emphasizing. For anti-immigration groups such as FAIR and CIS and for anti-immigration individuals such as Kirkorian and Steyn, immigration is ok as long as immigrants are white. They are essentially racists along with folks such as Corey Stewart, the supervisor of Prince William County, VA.
  4. Jack's Avatar
    'Many experts say that a more honest immigration policy has to start inside this country -- namely, with the government ending its wink-and-nod attitude toward employers who hire illegal immigrants.'

    Yet mostly what we hear is 'secure the border' where there is a track record of no bang for buck and which does zippo about visa overstays. So what are we to conclude about any politician who focuses solely on border as opposed to interior? There are only two possibilities and neither is good.
  5. USC's Avatar
    "interior?"

    Too much interior enforcement results in the United States becoming similar to the erstwhile USSR. A Democracy is not the most efficent forms of government. In a system such as ours you will always have illegal immigration. If you want it to go down to 0 you will have to implement draconian measures which will take away from every American's rights and liberties. So, the trick is to implement smart measures that cause illegal immigration to be an acceptable figure (no, I don't have a number for what that should be). In a Democracy, certain things, such as illegal immigration, you just have to live with.
  6. Another voice's Avatar
    "Too much interior enforcement results in the United States becoming similar to the erstwhile USSR."
    I believe that State and Local governments are already moving in this direction.
    "A Democracy is not the most efficent forms of government. In a system such as ours you will always have illegal immigration. If you want it to go down to 0 you will have to implement draconian measures which will take away from every American's rights and liberties. So, the trick is to implement smart measures that cause illegal immigration to be an acceptable figure (no, I don't have a number for what that should be). In a Democracy, certain things, such as illegal immigration, you just have to live with."
    If you create a system where Immigrants of all skills can migrate legally you can decrease this phenomenon. If its implemented with clear rules from the US embassies around the world and with access to people of limited means that are looking for work. But if you do not fix it meaning future migration along with the people that are here then yes, you have to live with it, but I do not think it is the only choice. The solution must be practical and realistic to be implemented successfully.
  7. hmm's Avatar
    I recently learned that US has only about 15 million naturalized citizens that are eligible to vote (out of 220 million of all eligible voters), that is there only 7% of naturalized voters. I was shocked at how small the number is but after checking the number of green cards given out annually and the naturalization rates it all made sense. Anyway I do not get why immigration is such a big deal as far as elections go.
  8. AD's Avatar
    "I recently learned that US has only about 15 million naturalized citizens that are eligible to vote (out of 220 million of all eligible voters), that is there only 7% of naturalized voters....Anyway I do not get why immigration is such a big deal as far as elections go."

    The big deal is that those naturalized citizens have descendants who also vote. Much of the opposition from the anti-immigration movement stems from their assumption that "race" equals political destiny and that immigration will tip the political balance away from the "white race".


  9. Legal and no longer waiting's Avatar
    There is also 15-20 million U.S. born "sympathizers" - mostly Latino voters who consider (quite rightfully) an offensive against immigration an offensive against all Latinos. Those include children of immigrants born in the U.S., but also those Hispanics who lived for generations in the Southwest, speak Spanish, and simply want to be good neighbors with Mexico. When you sum them up, they may play an important role in the elections - like the upcoming primaries in Texas, where those very Latinos may decide who's going to win the Democratic nomination.
  10. George Chell's Avatar
    "The big deal is that those naturalized citizens have descendants who also vote. Much of the opposition from the anti-immigration movement stems from their assumption that "race" equals political destiny and that immigration will tip the political balance away from the "white race"."

    This is the agenda of FAIR and CIS and Steyn, MacDonald, Malanga, Kirkorian and Camarotta. Their silence on white immigrants to Hollywood is deafening. Politicians such as Marsha Blackburn and Corey Stewart also belong to this category. If they have an opportunity, they will try to stop Americans from marrying foreigners or at least non-white foreigners. I have seen that people who are opposed to "illegals" also frown upon interracial couples, particularly in the Prince William County of Virginia.

  11. George Chell's Avatar
    "I believe that State and Local governments are already moving in this direction."

    Blanket statement. Certainly not here in Arlington, VA, Alexandria, VA and Fairfax County, VA or for that matter PG and Montgomerry Counties of MD. Prince William and Stafford Counties of VA, yes indeed! Mostly happens in Red States. That is why we call them the Red States...the Union of American Socialist Republics!
  12. Jack's Avatar
    'the trick is to implement smart measures'

    Yeah, dumb strategy is putting almost all your money and manpower at the border. Making it more difficult/expensive to cross into the U.S. deters such crossings some (along with deaths) but is counteracted by deterring RETURN border crossings (as often mentioned by Massey of Princeton and Castaneda ('Ex Mex'). A cynic might argue that is exactly why the emphasis is placed at the border as opposed to the jobs magnet where substantial deterrence could be effected. There's lots of domestic policies which are boneheaded and just coincidentally there is always a special interest contributor who likes things the way they are.
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