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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

Immigration Positions Not Likely to Sway GOP Voters

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If you only read the comments section of immigration-related articles appearing on the Internet, you might believe there is an army of anti-immigrant voters out there prepared to pounce on any politicians who stray from the xenophobe party line. But we've seen public opinion polling suggesting otherwise and now interesting results from focus groups of GOP voters in South Carolina and Iowa showing these folks won't punish candidates with moderate immigration views.In fact, these GOP voters showed their own views have moderated quite a bit.

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  1. Jack's Avatar
    If the public is so open borders, where are all the xenophile comments?

    I saw the two focus group positions in another article and it was so obviously designed to skew the result that it literally made me laugh. Here is an interesting article contrasting the disconnect between K Street and Main Street:

    The only [lobbying] group not favoring increasing immigration in one category or another--or all of them--is probably the building trade unions. Even the builders, however, are not actually restrictionists in the sense of wanting to shrink the number of immigrants. They are mostly lobbying to oppose reforms designed to loosen the requirements for H2B visas, which they fear will hurt their members wages.

    This is very revealing. Despite all the press that immigration restriction and border enforcement efforts garner, when it comes to lobbying, those saying we need to pare back immigration are getting completely clobbered. They don't even rank in the top twenty.

    Yet when Americans are asked about raising or lowering the number of immigrants coming into the country, only a small portion favor higher immigration levels and a very sizable plurality favor lower levels. A 2006 study by the Pew Hispanic Center, for example, found that 40 percent of those surveyed said legal immigration should be reduced and just 17 percent favored an increase. (Apparently Pew stopped asking that particular question after 2006.)

    This chart from Pew shows that as recently as 2012, 69 percent of those surveyed agree that "we should restrict and control people coming to live in our country more than we do now."

    Americans are divided over immigration. The lobbyists in Washington? Not so much.


    Why do CIR proponents want to pass it before the public finds out what's actually in it? For one, polling showed a precipitous decline in support for the most recent CIR bill the longer it was out there "hanging". As Lindsey Graham recently put it, "You don't want to leave it hanging out for two weeks to get shot up." How anti-democratic of him but at least he's honest about the motivation.

    CIR is the mother of all opportunities for the various special interests to jack up the immigration level in every category. They think they can slip what they want into the CIR blob without anyone noticing. The Sunlight Foundation showed that they are almost universally immigration expansionists. The higher immigration lobby and politicians that cater to them know the public doesn't want higher immigration but also know the in the tank for CIR MSM will not report the radical increase just as they did not in past CIR bills:

    You might think that the first question anyone would ask is how much it would actually increase or decrease legal immigration. But no. After the Senate approved the bill by 62 to 36, you could not find the answer in the news columns of the Post, the New York Times, or the Wall Street Journal. Yet the estimates do exist and are fairly startling. By rough projections, the Senate bill would double the legal immigration that would occur during the next two decades from about 20 million (under present law) to about 40 million. -- Robert Samuelson in the Washington Post
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