Immigration Politics Now Favors Moderates
Not that long ago the immigration extremists of the far right basked in the glory of victories like Arizona’s SB 1070. Their chest pounding drowned out those of us who were pointing out the influence of the eugenics movement and involvement of white supremacists in the legislative process. Those who argued for a humane middle ground were shouted down in the near mob-like clamor from the far right to rid the United States of illegal immigrants upon whose shoulders, they believed, all evil rested.
Times – and opinions – change. With the Supreme Court’s decision in Arizona v. United States and President Obama’s decision to end the deportation of certain younger illegal immigrants America’s center again found cause for tolerance. And the demographics of the Latin vote in keys states, long predicted to be a growing phenomenon, is finally beginning to show in actual voter registration.
Marshall Fitz lays this out in a guest editorial at Politico today. I borrow here from his piece,
“…Immigration is a defining issue for immigrants and Latinos — not the top issue but a defining issue because it’s personal. These voters, therefore, reject candidates who espouse or associate with anti-immigrant demagoguery — regardless of their views on other issues. And swing voters strongly support pragmatic approaches to solving our immigration problems.
The Obama administration’s decision to provide administrative protection to undocumented youth is a clear example of this new paradigm at work.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney ran one of the most extreme anti-immigrant primary campaigns in memory for a leading candidate. He vowed to veto the DREAM Act and promised to pursue a national self-deportation policy. As a result, his standing with the Latino electorate is in the toilet, and Romney himself acknowledged to a group of donors that he can’t win if he doesn’t do better with those voters.
By contrast, Obama announced a realistic pro-immigration policy that demonstrated his commitment to protecting the Latino community’s youth. In the wake of that decision, Obama saw a sharp increase in his already overwhelming advantage over Romney among Latinos. Perhaps more significantly, he witnessed a 50-point turnaround in Latino voter enthusiasm.
What’s more, polling of likely voters after the announcement showed that the public strongly preferred the president’s approach. In fact, it showed that independent swing voters preferred the president’s approach over Romney’s 2-to-1.
Politicians of all stripes should take note: When it comes to immigration, smart and humane policies are also good politics.”
Some predicted this change. Some refused to believe it. The reality is now taking shape, and the doubters and extremists need to find the clarity of thought to reconsider their anti-immigrant drumbeat. Humane and practical solutions are the order of the day on this issue. ‘Bout time.