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Reviews | The “third rail of American politics” is always electrifying


Two groups generate the highest levels of opposition to immigration, the authors write:

We find that the archetype of the “undocumented Latino man” should increase the probability of wanting to decrease immigration flows by 38 points, plus or minus 7 points. This archetype is joined near the bottom by “the rainbow undocumented immigrant” – “from all parts of the world” – which increases this probability by 29 points.

The authors identify those survey respondents who are most resistant to immigration:

These respondents are the oldest of all classes and possess many of the traits typical of conservative whites in the South. Many live in small towns or rural areas in the southern United States and identify as Republicans. In addition, many of them are retirees with little education. Interestingly, these respondents live in the least diverse communities compared to all other classes, judging by the presence of few immigrants and ethnic / racial minorities in their postal codes, which highlights the subjective nature immigrant archetypes.

A forthcoming article in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, “Intervening in Anti-Immigrant Sentiments: The Causal Effects of Factual Information on Attitudes Toward Immigration,” by Maria Abascal, Tiffany J. Huang and Van C. Tran , Sociologists from NYU, University of Pennsylvania and CUNY reveal an additional hurdle faced by pro-immigration Democrats.

The authors conducted a survey in which they explicitly provided information refuting negative stereotypes of the impact of immigrants on crime, tax burdens and employment. They found that respondents, in many cases, changed their views of immigrants from more negative to more positive ratings.

But the changes in a liberal policy direction have been short-lived at best: “In short,” Abascal, Huang and Tran wrote, the effects of stereotypical information “on beliefs on immigration are more durable than the effects on immigration strategy preferences, which themselves degrade rapidly. These results recommend caution when deploying factual information to change attitudes towards immigration Politics. “

The conservative shift to the right on immigration policy raises another question. The Republican Party was once the party of big business and the party that supported immigration as a source of cheap labor. What happened to make it the anti-immigration party?

Margaret E. Peters, political scientist at UCLA and author of the 2017 book, “Trading Barriers: Immigration and the Remaking of Globalization,” says American businesses’ need for cheap labor had diminished before the advent of Trump, and that this decline opens the door for Republican politicians to campaign on anti-immigrant themes.

In a March 2020 article, “Integration and Disintegration: Trade and Labor Market Integration,” Peters succinctly describes the process:

The decision to remove barriers to trade in goods and capital flows has had profound effects on immigration. Trade has resulted in the closure of businesses in developed countries that depend on low-skilled labor. When these businesses closed, they took their support for low-skilled immigration with them. The movement capacity of capital has intensified this trend: whereas in the past companies had to bring labor to their capital, they can now bring their capital to labor. Once these companies move, there is little incentive for them to fight for immigration to their country. Finally, increased productivity, both as a product and in response to globalization, has allowed companies to do more with fewer workers, again decreasing immigration demands. Together, these changes have resulted in a decrease in corporate support for immigration, allowing politicians to move to the right on immigration and pass restrictions to appease anti-immigration forces.

Across the aisle, Democrats, according to Princeton sociologist Douglas Massey, have failed to counter Republican opposition to immigration with an aggressive assertion of the historical United States narrative.

as a nation of immigrants, taking advantage of the fact that almost all Americans are descendants of immigrants who arrived in a country they did not originally live in, and that despite times of xenophobia and restriction , the United States was ultimately a great integrating immigration machine that benefited the United States and made us an exceptional nation.

Unfortunately, Massey continued,

the intertwined forces of climate change, state failure, violence and the criminal economy will greatly complicate efforts to create a counter-narrative by producing waves of asylum seekers and refugees, which could be managed with effective immigration and border policies, but which, under the current circumstances, serve instead to produce images of chaos along the southern border.

Ryan Enos, professor of government at Harvard, has a different point of view. He maintains that

Until Trump campaigned on his ban on Muslims and his largely symbolic border wall issue, there was mostly a consensus among Republican and Democratic politicians allowing for continued welcome of immigrants to the United States and keeping the anti- reactionary immigrants off the table. There was also a broad consensus among most Democratic and Republican voters in favor of this.

This consensus, argues Enos, still holds, but it is fragile:

The question for the future of the broader consensus on immigration is whether Republicans can continue to be successful despite anti-immigrant pimping that is largely out of step with the broad US consensus on immigration. If they are electorally successful – and there is reason to believe they will, given the predictions of Democratic losses in 2022 – then that broad consensus could permanently crumble and much of the American public could follow. their Republican leaders towards a fuller adoption of the anti-immigrant ideology.

As Democrats continued to struggle to reach agreement on major infrastructure and social spending bills, they were forced to quickly step up a gear on tax hikes without fully addressing themselves. potentially unintended consequences. Party members remain hesitant at best to challenge Senate filibuster rule, and top House Democrats pull out in early warning signal that party could face serious losses in November 2022.

There are potentially tragic consequences if the Democratic Party proves unable to prevent anti-immigration forces from returning to resume debate, consequences described by Waldinger of UCLA:

The average undocumented immigrant has been in the United States for ten years Undocumented migrant issues reverberate through the large population of U.S. citizens, who are the children, companions, parents of undocumented migrants, and whose lives are affected by the increasingly repressive political environment.

In other words, Waldinger continued, “the ever greater integration of the unauthorized population increases the legitimacy of their claims.”

In other words, for all intents and purposes, most undocumented immigrants – and perhaps especially Dreamers – are Americans deserving of full citizenship. But these Americans are on the political chopping block, dependent on a weakened Democratic Party to protect them from a revival of the savagery that an intensely motivated Republican Party has on its agenda.

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