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« Michael Yon On Progress In Iraq: "This Is The Real Thing" | Main | "The Politics of Parsing" »
November 07, 2007

Immigration Round-Up: Fence Working, Issue Working For GOP

From Kaus, the fence has destroyed the economy of a town... however, the town in question is a Mexican one that became a boomtown as a stop of convenience for illegal immigrants sneaking across the US border.

If the fence doesn't work, why exactly is this illegal stopover town decimated?

Poll: 77% oppose granting drivers' licenses to illegals.

And see Kaus too for Hillary's continue flailing on the issue, and John Edwards' exploiting of it. Kaus guesses Hillary might not be willing to walk back from her previous non-answer because she's too vain about her supposed intellectual gifts to admit she's ever wrong.

And, what the hell, see this Kaus piece I meant to link previously about Democrats finally realizing this issue is cutting against them, and very badly.

It seems like only months ago we were told the immigration issue was splitting Republicans. Now it's E.J. Dionne wringing his hands about the

worry among Democrats that Republicans are ready to use impatience with illegal immigration to win back voters dissatisfied with the status quo.

What's changed? Well, President Bush--the main politician doing the GOP-splitting--is leaving the scene. The Republican electorate seems to have decisively turned against his illegal-immigrant semi-amnesty. Result: No more split! But the powerful GOP anti-legalization sentiment was obviously latent even in 2006. The MSM just chose not to notice.

Anti-legalization sentiment has also been manifestly latent among Democratic voters--including, but not limited to, unskilled workers whose wages have been suppressed by immigrant competition. What's odd, then, is that the Dems now aren't split. They're only terrified!

Finally, the sage of American politics Michael Barone thinks, for the first time in his lifetime, immigration will be a key if not the key issue in 2008.

October 2007 may turn out to be the month that immigration became a key issue in presidential politics. It hasn't been, at least in my lifetime.


There was no perceptible difference on immigration between George W. Bush and Al Gore in 2000. Both favored a comprehensive bill with legalization and guest-worker provisions. John Kerry in 2006 and 2007 voted for immigration bills along the lines supported by Bush.

Now, things look different...

You don't have to be a racist to be bothered by such things. You just have to be a citizen who thinks that massive failure to enforce the law is corrosive to society.

That was apparent to me as I listened to a focus group of Republican voters in suburban Richmond, Va., conducted by Peter Hart for the Annenberg School of Communications. One voter after another complained that the immigration laws were not being enforced. None of them made any derogatory remarks about Latino immigrants -- two said they admired how hard they work. They don't want to see Latinos banished from this country. They want the immigrants here to be legally here.

Which leaves Democratic politicians and political candidates out on a pretty flimsy limb. Most of them reflexively back a comprehensive bill, and some of them (like Bush and a number of Republicans backing such a bill) have dismissed opponents as racists.


"The centrality of illegal immigration to the current discontent about the direction of the country may be taking us back again to a welfare moment," write the shrewd Democratic strategists James Carville and Stanley Greenberg. Yup.

Pinkerton likens this to the 1988 Willie Horton question posed by Al Gore of Michael Dukakis. Dukakis prevailed in the nomination fight, but he was mortally wounded against George Bush the elder in the general election.

And the Politico makes similar noises, analogizing illegal immigration to the crime/welfare issues of the 70s and 80s.

But for Democrats to take on the immigration issue, certain myths have to be overcome. A sterner stance on illegal immigration does not betray our national ideals. This is an issue of illegal immigration, not immigration.

Yet liberals should be worried. The inability or lack of intent to significantly decrease illegal immigration seems to be souring the public’s mood over immigration itself.


The political left should be particularly troubled because the illegal immigration issue also aggravates Democrats’ long-term demographics challenge and the left’s lack of support among male voters.

Today 40 percent of white men, compared with 28 percent of white women, identify as independents [I think they mean "Repubicans" -- ace.], according to the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

The fact that illegal immigration concerns independents most means that the issue could only serve to widen the white male gap, which has vexed Democrats since the days of Nixon.

Too often, however, the political debate gets lost in how justified the anxiety is over illegal immigration. The reason actually matters less than the reality. The majority of Americans are upset. They view immigration in law and order terms. Therefore, so must Democrats.

After all, there is no yielding of principle to stand for following the law. But should Democrats stand for the alternative, many moderates, especially men, may come to question — just as they did in 1968 — whether Democrats stand for them.

Thanks to Ogre Gunner for the tip to Politico; Pinkerton column via Instapundit.

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posted by Ace at 04:46 PM

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