Immigration Policy as a Republican Electoral Strategy
By Jacob Miller
Conservatives often employ economic arguments when debating immigration. However, this is fruitless for two reasons: for one thing, the relationship between immigration and economic growth is not clear cut, and for another, whether or not immigration helps us economically does not really matter. Yes, a country needs some level of immigration if it wants to survive, but issues concerning a country's survival should not merely concern economic prosperity — they should also concern spiritual prosperity.
I am sure America would “survive” economically if the US Government was to create a safe space for refugees, ban all guns and offensive speech, terminate states' rights, and throw out the Constitution altogether — but its central Republican, Enlightenment era spirit would wither away.
At this point you may be asking: "How is this relevant to immigration?"
Well, to put it simply....
IMMIGRANTS VOTE DEMOCRAT.
In other words, if we ever want a Republican president again — if we want to prosper spiritually as well as economically — immigration, both legal and illegal, will need to be significantly reduced.
According to Pew, the United States has the largest immigration population in the world. Our 40 million foreign born residents account for a staggering 20% of the world's total immigrant population. That means that 13.4 percent of the current US population is foreign born.
The top country of origin for immigrants is Mexico, and surveys have shown that this demographic is not friendly to Republicans. In the past 3 Presidential elections, nearly 70% of registered Hispanics voted for Democrats. Further, 75% of Hispanics explicitly say they favor big government over small government. Even 58% of third generation Hispanics favor big government, compared to only 41% of the general population. Registered Hispanic voters are also much more likely to support gun control. People from China and India constitute the next largest immigrant groups. This is especially worrying since, in the 2016 elections, 79% of Asian Americans voted for Clinton.
That is not to say that legal immigrants or children of recent immigrants should be demonized. In fact, the individuals who diverge from their demographic in terms of political affiliation should be praised, and encouraged to convince their counterparts to become dissident voters as well. However, looking forward, America needs to develop an immigration policy that takes American values into account; a policy that makes conservative values the rule, and not the exception, among immigrants.
You may be asking: "Do these trends really have an impact on elections over time?" According to a paper by the Center for Immigration Studies, they do: Among counties where there was 6% increase in immigration share from 1980-2008, 82% saw a decrease in Republican vote share.
These trends are evident in the real world. Ronald Reagan is lauded as the quintessential conservative, but we need to keep in mind that when he gave amnesty to 3 million illegal aliens in 1986 he helped solidify California’s status as a blue state. This phenomena was also evident during the recent election in Virginia, where Ed Gillespie lost to a Democrat. Virginia was never thought of as a blue state. The only reason it flipped was because of endless immigration. In 1970, only 1 percent of Virginians were foreign born. By 2012, that number was 11%. We may very well be mourning the loss of Texas as a red stronghold by 2020, when the Hispanic population becomes the plurality demographic. However, unlike in the case of Virginia, there will be no turning back when Texas turns blue.
Pessimists may say that it’s too late to reverse this trend, but if we crackdown on illegal immigration, cut current immigration levels by more than 75%, and make sure that the immigrants who come hold American values, the American spirit might just endure. Before we can accomplish that, however, we need to recognize that as long as Democrats view immigration through a strategic electoral lens, Republicans will need to do the same.