Democrats and progressives have gone overboard on the immigration issue, calling for abolishing the Immigrations and Custom Enforcement service (ICE) and engaging in stunts like scaling the Statue of Liberty. But open-borders radicalism is more likely to hurt the progressives and push support to President Trump.
A new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that immigration is the leading political issue of the country, albeit at 15% in a statistical tie with the economy. The issue is particularly important to Republicans; 26% said it was their leading concern, more than double what it was in June. Democrats by contrast are more concerned with health care and the economy. Only seven percent list immigration as their top issue. That alone indicates that immigration has more resonance with conservatives than with the left.
But not so fast says the New York Times. A new study by University of Minnesota researchers found that despite conventional wisdom to the contrary, the immigration debate played little role in Donald Trump’s 2016 election victory. According to data from the American National Election Studies, 44% of white voters wanted lower immigration, 40% wanted to keep things as they are, and 16% wanted immigration increased. So, as the Washington Post noted, “a minority of whites want reduced immigration (as Trump does), while a 56 percent majority of whites are not anti-immigration,” thus “Trump’s racism might actually hurt him.” Hmmm.
Of course one could as easily summarize the data as showing that 84% of whites want immigration at the current level or lower. And that among those who have strong opinions, those who want reduced immigration outnumber those who want an increase by +28%. These are probably more useful takes on the data, but if liberals want to believe that those chants of “Build the Wall” were not sincere then fine.
Progressives also take comfort in several polls that show majority disapproval of the way the administration is managing immigration. This mostly breaks down on party lines, with approval/disapproval in the eighty percent range on either side. But it’s a mistake to believe that those who disapprove automatically side with the progressives. Many may think the laws are not tough enough, that the wall still need to be built, that more people need to be deported and so forth.
Those who want much tougher policies can be as disapproving as those who want to disband ICE.
And a new Quinnipiac poll reveals that Democrats get no credit for their supposed immigration idealism since more than 60% believe they are “exploiting the nation’s immigration issue for political gain” rather than trying to find solutions. This issue is not so important among the broad Democratic voter base but a huge issue for strident activists and those who can use it for fundraising.
Progressives and Democratic leaders are clearly disconnected from a large segment of their rank and file. A Harvard survey found that 47% of Democrats feel that “people who make it across our border illegally” should be “sent home” rather than stay. Even 53% of Hispanics said that for illegal parents with children, being sent home is preferable. And those who voted for Hillary Clinton are split 51/49 percent between illegals being allowed to stay or be sent home. Republicans meanwhile favor sending back illegals by 83/17 percent.
When it comes to open borders, voters in the Harvard survey disagreed by three to one with incoming Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s contention that migration was a human right and there should be “massive border crossings.” And 57% (including 51% of Hispanics) would favor responding to this by “building a barrier across the border with Mexico.”
So, explain again how promoting tougher immigration policies hurts President Trump? Seems like the progressives are the real dreamers.
James S. Robbins is editor of Eagle Action Report and author of Erasing America: Losing Our Future by Destroying Our Past (Regnery, 2018).
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