Friday, July 20, 2018

Why Is Immigration So Important to People?

I've spent years saying (accurately) that immigration is just not a major issue for people, especially when they're voting. As I had a student point out not long ago, that is a point made in my book that is no longer true.

A record 22 percent of Americans said this month that they believe “immigration/illegal aliens” is the most important problem facing the United States, according to Gallup polling numbers released on Wednesday
“The 22 percent of Americans in July who say immigration is the top problem is up from 14 percent in June and is the highest percentage naming that issue in Gallup's history of asking the ‘most important problem’ question,” Gallup Editor in Chief Frank Newport said in an analysis of the survey.
This is deeply frustrating because we know that demography and other factors have led to a situation commonly referred to as "net zero" immigration. This won't last forever because demography is ever changing. But whatever crisis people feel is way behind us.

Further, migrants aren't stealing jobs. People are not making the connection that President Trump is complaining about migrants while also acknowledging that there are thousands of skilled jobs that Americans aren't taking. There is a worker shortage in this country and we are just about at full employment.

Further further, people are afraid of MS-13 but this is not an immigration problem. This is a homegrown gang with transnational ties. Messing with immigration won't affect it. Better drug policies and attention to local community needs would.

Now, after that ranting, let me offer a ray of hope. It may well be that the relevance of immigration has soared in large part to a common sense response to the anti-empirical arguments being repeated all the time. In other words, many people appreciate and value immigration and now believe it's important to stop separating families, to support family unification, and more generally promote human rights. Maybe people think the "problem" is policy, not the migrants themselves.

So what percent of the 22 percent see immigration as a problem versus a good thing? We can find hope in the fact that more Americans than ever would like to see immigration increased and more than ever (75%) believe it is a good thing.

Or maybe more people than ever are showing their racism and xenophobia. I will leave it to you to decide.


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