Pethokoukis, Economics, U.S. Economy

Are Asians and Hispanics really just a fifth column for big government?

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Image Credit: Shutterstock

I don’t know, really, whether it would be good or bad politically for Republicans to tackle immigration reform this year. Some say it would be divisive and distract from the party’s Obamacare critique. Others argue that waiting would inject the issue into the 2016 GOP presidential race.

Generally, however, I am in favor of implementing good policy ideas ASAP. And reform that would legalize undocumented workers and create a more-skills based system would be a big net plus economically. (Timing-wise, as Reihan Salam argues, passing a jobs act for the long-term unemployed might be of higher priority.)

Columnist Ann Coulter apparently doesn’t want that sort of immigration reform today, tomorrow, or ever. But it’s not just a piece of legislation she’s against. Coulter is pretty much dubious of all immigration, full stop.

Immigrants — all immigrants — have always been the bulwark of the Democratic Party.  … This is not a secret. For at least a century, there’s never been a period when a majority of immigrants weren’t Democrats. … The two largest immigrant groups, Hispanics and Asians, have little in common economically, culturally or historically. But they both overwhelmingly support big government, Obamacare, affirmative action and gun control. … At the current accelerated rate of immigration — 1.1 million new immigrants every year — Republicans will be a fringe party in about a decade … why on Earth are they bringing in people sworn to their political destruction?

1.)  Of the 11 million illegal aliens, only 80% are Latino, and only 40% or so might actual seek citizenship. And probably less than half of those will vote. So amnesty might provide Dems with an additional 1 million votes. How would amnesty have played out in the 2012 election? Sean Trende: “Using these numbers, not a single state would have cast its votes for the electors of a different candidate in 2012. In fact, in 28 states, the president’s margin would have increased by just a half-point or less.”

2.) I have been worried that fears of a further influx of unskilled Hispanic labor would metastasize into undifferentiated restrictionism. Well, here we are. So now (some) conservatives don’t want the brainiacs, either? According to Harvard study, immigrants generally account for about a quarter of the US workforce engaged in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.What’s more, according to Pia Orrenius of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, immigrants accounted for well over 50% of the growth in employment in STEM-related fields between 2003 and 2008. So we want those foreign PhDs only if they are big 2nd Amendment supporters?

3.) Such a static way of viewing the world. Maybe Republicans will always have electoral problems with low-income immigrants. But can’t Republicans improve their showing with them — not to mention those Hispanics and Asians natives and immigrants in the middle and upper class — with the same set of pro-growth, pro-mobility policies that might appeal to all Americans? A CBS News report earlier this year points out that Hispanic households earning more than $100,000 were actually more likely to call themselves Republicans than Democrats, but warns that “if over the long term Hispanic voters see a distinction between the parties based more heavily through the lens of group attachments, economics matters less” and Republicans won’t be able to make much progress.

And that scenario seems far more likely to happen if Republicans treat Hispanics and Asians as a fifth column for Big Government rather than voters to be persuaded by policies that appeal to their concerns and by politicians who see them more than just a category in a poll’s crosstabs.

Follow James Pethokoukis on Twitter at @JimPethokoukis, and AEIdeas at @AEIdeas.

14 thoughts on “Are Asians and Hispanics really just a fifth column for big government?

  1. While I could argue either side of the issue all day, here are my comments
    1) We have de facto amnesty now.
    2) Without true amnesty, the undocs are more likely to be exploited.
    3) If we legalize those who are now exploitable, the exploiters will bring in more undocs so that they can exploit them.
    4) Many STEM workers were displaced in the late 80s/early 90s by H1B workers. It will happen again. Having a large number of Americans in STEM is a matter of National Defense.

  2. Thoughtful blogging, except for the headline.
    Who is in favor of spending $1 trillion a year on DoD, DHS and the VA? For extensively intrusive USDA? For ethanol? A huge NSA? For extensive rural subsidies?
    When it comes to agency spending the GOP is king.

  3. I still can’t understand why so many successful, hard working and well-to-do Asians, folks who share American values, have rapidly migrated to support the democrat left and socialism. Their proportional representation within the latter has catapulted to 2/3+, significantly higher than only 20-years ago.

    Any ideas?

    • They don’t share the American passion for individualism. The opposite is true. The reason Cambodians own the doughnut business is they help each other. Employees sign on with the understanding that they will at some point buy their own shop. When that time comes they borrow the money from the Cambodian doughnut shop cartel. They then hire the next set of entrepreneurs.
      Things weren’t that different 170 years ago. The Beneficial Savings Fund Society financed Irish Catholics in Philadelphia when establishment bank guards threw them out of the building.
      Immigrants have excellent reasons to be wary of the establishment, and to be protective of their own.

    • They come from countries where the media is not as sophisticated in pushing a narrative, as in the US.

      Hence, they come here, and form opinions from what they see on TV, which *looks* unbiased, but is really very pro-Dem.

    • McDaddy,

      You said :

      significantly higher than only 20-years ago.

      Because in those 20 years, we have gone from just 3 TV networks, to 24/7 cable news and Social Media. All of which is pro-Dem.

      Thus, anyone who was apolitical (as most Asians are), by default just becomes a Democrat.

      This is as much the fault of the GOP as anything else, for letting the Dems control the media, and have a monopoly on the apolitical/uninterested voters (which Asians are)…

  4. If the Republican establishment wants to lose even more elections then they should continue to back an amnesty program that the base of the party has made abundantly clear that they oppose. How many more elections do they think we can afford to lose to the now openly Marxist Democrat party? And why do they think that with a lackluster economy and millions of Americans out of work that we need to import a new slave class?

    I am partly of Hispanic origin myself, but I don’t want uncontrolled amnesty and it is insulting to imply that I should do so because of my background. And what about all of the people who are playing by the rules who find that they have been chumps while illegals cut to the front of the line? What message does that send to them? Do we dispense with the rule of law because it is inconvenient? Should we reward a corrupt Mexican state while they push their unemployed people over our border because they won’t deal with their own economic problems?

    Let’s secure the border for real and get the economy going first. Then we can take a more realistic look at just what our immigration needs will be.

  5. For sure, I think they should have to get in line for citizenship – behind those who are waiting for legal admission. But I don’t think those who have been here a long time should have to go back during the wait.

  6. And that scenario seems far more likely to happen if Republicans treat Hispanics and Asians as a fifth column for Big Government rather than voters to be persuaded by policies that appeal to their concerns and by politicians who see them more than just a category in a poll’s crosstabs.

    So we have to back amnesty for lawbreakers or we alienate Hispanics and Asians? How about we appeal to Hispanics and Asian citizens as Americans rather than play the left’s poisonous game of identity politics?

    • Well without the balkanization game what do the lefties have to offer these illegal aliens?

      Balkanization is the key to that whole ‘martyred minority‘ class warfare politics…

      Sadly we as a nation have a spotty record of acting consitently with regards to serious deportation

      Maybe we as a nation should seriously consider adopting Mexico’s immigration laws instead of the bizare hodge podge we have now…

  7. “Of the 11 million illegal aliens, only 80% are Latino” is when I stopped reading.

    The labor glut on the lower end of the skills spectrum is a boon for Big Business and the welfare state. No wonder the GOP and Dems find common ground on the issue.

  8. Coulter is correct. The vast majority of current legal immigrants are chain migrants, unskilled relatives of recent legal immigrants. And they tend toward socialism, as is the dominant principle in the rest of the world. They do little net benefit for the economy, depress wages, take jobs from the working class, and would add several million net votes to the Democrats.

  9. Are Asians and Hispanics really just a fifth column for big government?” No more so than the Irish or Italians were.

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