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"Cultural" Hostility Toward Immigrants is Biggest Obstacle to Reform. By Roger Algase

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Laura Matthews, immigration reporter for International Business Times, citing a new survey by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) writes that 63 percent of Americans favor granting citizenship to 11 million unauthorized immigrants in America as long as they meet certain conditions. This includes 60 percent of Republicans and 73 percent of Democrats.

See Immigration Reform 2013: Bill Stalls But Support For Path To Citizenship Is Consistent, November 25.

www.ibtimes.com/immigration-reform-2013-bill-stalls-path-citizenship-consistent-1484530

According to Matthews, the survey (which can be accessed in full by clicking the link in her article) reports that only 14 per cent of the public supports legal status for immigrants without granting them US citizenship. And only 18 percent of Americans support deporting all undocumented immigrants.

This puts the great majority of Americans far ahead of both the Republican Party, which is still blocking reform, and President Obama who refuses to use the broad executive power over immigration which has long been recognized as shown, inter alia, by Justice Anthony Kennedy's majority opinion in last year's US Supreme Court case, Arizona v. US.

See Politico: Obama dismisses using executive orders to 'nullify Congress', November 25.

http://www.politico.com/politico44/2...fy-178333.html

Why is there such a gap between the US public and its elected representatives, at least in the GOP-controlled House? Matthews writes:

"Hard right [House] conservatives are absolutely against the idea of a path to citizenship, but some GOP leaders are contemplating an offer of legal status to the undocumented."

As I indicated in my November 25 post, it would be closer to reality to say that the Republican radical right is against any form of legalization, not just citizenship, and that even the GOP offers of legal status, if any, fall far short of offering genuine legalization to 11 million people.

Why is the Radical Republican Right so opposed to legalization, let alone citizenship, for unauthorized immigrants, against the wishes of the great majority of the American people in both parties? Why are so many GOP politicians still stuck in the deport-'em all, "no amnesty for illegals" mindset which killed the last serious attempt at immigration reform in 2007 and led to Mitt Romney's overwhelming defeat in 2012?

An answer can be found in the part of the PRRI survey entitled Perceptions of Cultural Threat. (Pages 16 and 17 of the survey.)

The survey states:

"Most Americans (54%) believe that American culture and way of life have mostly changed for the worse since the 1950's, while 4-in-10 (40%) believe it has changed for the better...

A slim majority (53%) of Americans agree that the American way of life needs to be protected against foreign influence, while close to half (45%) disagree. Ohio residents are significantly more likely than Americans overall to agree that the American way of life needs protecting (66%) compared to just 33% who disagree."


Just in case there is any doubt about what "protecting the American way of life" means, the survey quotes an evangelical woman in Orlando, Florida as follows:

"There's these little communities. There's like grocery stores that I don't feel comfortable going into, because I know that's not my grocery store, because I am white, I'm American, I am not Hispanic. They're going to look at me when I walk into that store like, 'Why am I there?'" (Emphasis added.)

If in 2013. a majority of Americans, especially in an important swing state such as Ohio (which is House Speaker John Boehner's home state) think that America was "culturally" a better place in the 1950's, before the 1965 immigration reform which opened up our gates to immigrants from all over the world, not just Northern Europe, no one should be surprised that immigration reform is in such deep trouble now.

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Updated 11-26-2013 at 08:29 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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