OCALA, Fla., May 1, 2014 — Illegal immigration is turning into a top political issue this year.
With midterm elections around the corner and an enraged pro-amnesty base firmly out of the shadows, unlawful immigration presents a dangerous potential quagmire for Republican politicos.
The amnesty debate rarely hits the heart of the matter, focusing instead on the politics of race. Opposition to temporary legal status or citizenship for illegal aliens is often perceived as anti-Hispanic bigotry.
“This ‘perception’ is false and pernicious,” says Dr. Stephen Steinlight of the Center for Immigration Studies. “No solid data or body of empirical evidence suggest, let alone prove bigotry motivates the great majority that opposes amnesty. It is a smear disseminated by amnesty advocates to advance their cause.
“‘Immigrant advocates’ lack compelling arguments to support their position. By labeling opponents ‘bigots,’ they rationalize refusal to debate them and camouflage fear of responding to opponents’ ideas with a fraudulent moral justification. ‘One Nation, After All,’ an exhaustive study of American attitudes towards Third-Rail issues by Alan Wolfe, finds no evidence that bigotry plays a role in opposition to Hispanic immigration. Americans oppose illegal immigration, not immigrant ethnicity.”
Illegal immigration is a subject where middle ground is difficult to find, let alone stand on. How do you compromise with those who support amnesty for millions of illegals? That position is radical from the start. It does not ignore moderation; it’s an assault on the very concept.
As with other extremist crusades, important facts go unmentioned for the sake of perpetuating a narrative. Many of those facts relate to Hispanic life.
“Amnesty and the resultant increase in immigration would be highly injurious to America’s Hispanic community,” Dr. Steinlight explains. “Most are working poor with a high percentage of families on two major welfare programs. They’re clinging to the bottom rungs of the socio-economic ladder in the loosest labor market since the Great Depression. A tsunami in immigration would greatly intensify competition for scarce jobs, increase unemployment, drive down wages, and make upward mobility even harder for second and third-generation Hispanics whose socio-economic advancement has stagnated. For reasons previously cited, it would also slow assimilation.”
Some claim that Hispanics are “natural conservatives” due to their family-oriented culture. This allegedly makes them Republicans in all but formal registration. Election results say the exact opposite, though.
“The premise and stereotype are equally false,” Dr. Steinlight says. “There’s no correlation between ‘strong family values’ and conservatism. Cultures perceived as possessing them (i.e. Asian Americans and Jewish Americans) are predominantly liberal. Moreover, whether understood generically or as socially conservative code language, Hispanics don’t exemplify ‘strong family values.’
“Illegitimacy is inimical to ‘family values,’ yet Hispanics have a high rate and have witnessed the greatest increase of any group: 19 percent in1980 to 42 percent in 2003. More female-headed single-parent households deepens Hispanic poverty resulting in anti-social behavior such as teenage child-bearing, the highest school drop-out rate, and high crime and incarceration rates.
“Nor do Hispanics hold conservative views.
“A 2012 Pew poll finds Hispanics support gay marriage more than other Americans: 54 percent in favor and 34 percent opposed. Gallup reports the U.S. public more evenly divided. The identical majority, 59 percent of Hispanics and other Americans, support the mainstreaming of homosexuals. Moreover, Hispanics don’t vote on the basis of ‘values.’
“Lopsided support for the Democrats reflects leftist views on economic policy. Only 34 percent view capitalism favorably, lowest of any group surveyed. Hispanics look more positively on government than non-Latino whites or African Americans. 81 percent supports a bigger government dispensing more social services; just 41 percent of other Americans agree. Hispanics are more conservative only with regard to abortion.”
All of this raises a very important question: What does “Hispanic” really mean?
In theory, the term denotes an individual descended from lands once controlled by the Spanish Empire. In practice, though, things are not so clear cut.
“The nexus between Hispanics and immigration is so critical it’s impossible to discuss immigration without focusing primarily on Hispanics,” Dr. Steinlight stated. “Overwhelmingly Mexican, they have dominated legal and illegal immigration flows so completely since passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 as to make Hispanic immigration virtually conterminous with immigration itself.
“Immigrants from the next eight largest sending countries combined don’t equal their number. A shared 2,000-mile-long border, the longest on earth between a First and Third World economy explains much, as does abdication of border control by US Administrations.
“Authoritative data establish why Hispanic immigration to a modern post-industrial knowledge-based economy and society where socio-economic advancement depends on education and which supports an enormous welfare system is highly problematic.
“Hispanic immigration represents a massive infusion of low-skill labor and constitutes the importation of poverty on a monumental scale. High percentages depend on welfare and lack medical insurance.
“Hispanic poverty is not a product of legal status; it results from inferior education. Some 32 percent haven’t finished 9th grade; some 62 percent lack a high school diploma. A third is illiterate in Spanish. Divided loyalties also raise concern. Polls show a majority of Mexican immigrants regard the US Southwest as belonging to Mexico.”