November 22, 2004


Nix on Nativism: Ignore the anti-immigrant right. Bush did. (JASON L. RILEY, November 22, 2004, Wall Street Journal)

Pat Buchanan insists that the exit polls are inaccurate, or at least the ones measuring the Hispanic vote. Other columnists have attached great significance to the fact that Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo, a Republican who has made opposition to immigration his signature, won re-election. Yeah, him and 98% of House incumbents. Then there's National Review, which maintains that the real Hispanic story on Election Day isn't the Bush vote totals. Rather, it's the passage of Prop. 200, a redundant ballot measure in Arizona that bans illegal aliens from receiving government services that are already off-limits to them.

There are several explanations for all the conservative pooh-poohing. The most obvious is a fear among restrictionists that the Bush administration will interpret its Latino returns as a mandate to proceed with immigration reform. In January, President Bush floated the idea of a guest-worker program that would free up border agents to pursue terrorist threats instead of spending their time chasing down Mexicans who come here to work. The base went bonkers. Some on the right just can't bear the thought of a border policy that focuses less on militarization and more on balancing security with the needs of the economy.

But there's another reason why these conservatives are downplaying this newfound Hispanic affinity for the GOP. Having insisted for years that Latinos are lost to Republicans--that time spent courting our largest ethnic minority group is time wasted--the editors at National Review, the commentators at Fox News and their anti-immigrant amigos at the Center for Immigration Studies are all loath to admit they were wrong.

Indeed, one way President Bush won a second term is by ignoring those who bash GOP outreach. His success is the fruition of a drive launched three years ago Karl Rove and Matthew Dowd. Exceeding everyone's expectations, Latino support for the president expanded in states in the West, South and Southwest that are essential to Republicans maintaining their current advantage.

Thus the result in the president's home state of Texas, the second-most populous after California. Nearly one of every four voters in Texas is Hispanic, and Mr. Bush upped his share of that vote to 59% from 43% in 2000. In Florida, which is the fourth-most populous state and where 15% of voters are Hispanic, his share of the Hispanic vote rose by seven percentage points. Still, it was Mr. Bush's success out West, where the Latino population is exploding, that probably made the most difference. "For all the attention paid to Florida and Ohio," reported the Houston Chronicle, "had Bush not done respectably in Latino communities in those two Western states [New Mexico and Nevada] and carried Iowa by a hair . . . he would have lost the election."

The Democrats--with their base in secularism, blacks, Unions, etc.--are the natural anti-immigration party and it can be a very good political issue for the short term.

Hillary Eyeing Immigration as Top 2008 Issue (NewsMax, 11/21/04)

More than any other leader of either political party, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton has been focusing on the issue of immigration reform and border security - taking hard-line positions that appeal to frustrated Republicans in a move that could guarantee her enough red state support to win the White House in 2008.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 22, 2004 11:01 AM

"very good political issue for the short term"

Well, in the long-term we're all dead anyway.

Posted by: h-man at November 22, 2004 11:41 AM

That gives the GOP three years to come up with a comprehensive answer to the knotty problems created by illegal immigration. Whichever Mexican administration succeeds Vicente Fox's will have to be an important player in any solution.

Posted by: ed at November 22, 2004 11:46 AM

That gives the GOP three years to come up with a comprehensive answer to the knotty problems created by illegal immigration. Whichever Mexican administration succeeds Vicente Fox's will have to be an important player in any solution.

Posted by: ed at November 22, 2004 11:47 AM

The problem is that Fox's likely successor will be worse than he is.

What we need is some means to match entrants with the low-skill jobs they will be doing, regulating the process. I'm sure it can be done but it won't be easy. South Africa had a program similar to this in the 80s for guest workers from Mozambique who worked for a few years and then went home, but on a much smaller scale.

Posted by: Bart at November 22, 2004 12:00 PM

Bart: The PAN would seem the most attractive political party with which to deal.

Posted by: ed at November 22, 2004 12:09 PM

It is interesting watching the dialogue between NRO and the Wall Street Journal on this issue. NRO seems to want to build a wall around the US and throw the existing illegals out. WSJ seems to be much more flexible on immigration (probably reflecting business' desire for low cost labor). The answer seems to be in the middle (continued immigration with stricter controls) but it will continue to be a potential wedge issue in the GOP.

Posted by: AWW at November 22, 2004 12:24 PM

Why would the GOP slow the immigration of its base?

Posted by: oj at November 22, 2004 12:30 PM

GOP, by allowing excessive illegal Mexicans into the country are penalizing over the "long-term" their natural "base" of Koreans, Indians, and Chinese, who are apparently trying to get into the country in a legal fashion.

Posted by: h-man at November 22, 2004 12:34 PM

NRO is just the left jab for the WSJ's right hook.

Posted by: J.H. at November 22, 2004 1:45 PM

Put immigration offices throughout Mexico and Central America, allow 1 million per year to enter, ensure that each has enough money for 3 months, any immigrant not working full-time within the three month period is deported and restricted from re-entering for 3 years. All get criminal background checks. Force all city and state police to determine citizenship status in all crimes and before granting state services and deport any immigrant convicted of felonies or gross misdeameanors and not allow them to come back. Grant citizenship after 5 years according to their behavior. I disagree with forcing employers to show that they cannot find Americans to fill positions before granting entry. The main benefit of employing many illegal immigrants (at least for me at my company)is their work ethic more than their willingess to work for less. I can find citizens to fill all my positions, but they are lazy, call-in too frequently and quit or need to be fired too regularly. Being an employer has allowed me to realize how unwilling to work - for any wage - much of our workforce has become.

Posted by: Pat H at November 22, 2004 2:18 PM


They aren't Christian conservatives, like the Latinos and don't come in sufficient numbers.

Posted by: oj at November 22, 2004 2:28 PM

OJ, do you really think the GOP has a stronger base because Mission Street in San Francisco has Hispanic drug dealers operating in broad daylight? I'm not against immigration (few people are, even "nativists"), but I shouldn't have to explain to a conservative that it's possible to have too much of a good thing, or that if you leave your back door open, you might find people in your house who you'd rather not be there.

Posted by: PapayaSF at November 22, 2004 2:33 PM

A majority of native born Hispanics want immigration reform too.

Posted by: carter at November 22, 2004 2:46 PM


If you make the life raft you tell the other swimmers it's full now

Posted by: oj at November 22, 2004 2:55 PM


Arrest them for drug dealing.

Posted by: oj at November 22, 2004 2:56 PM


Few people are against immigration? You must not be listening to KSFO.


Why should we increase our prison population when we could just keep illegal aliens out of the country and save a lot of money?

Pat H:

All of that is swell except it won't work unless we secure our borders.

Posted by: Vince at November 22, 2004 3:28 PM


It costs money, it doesn't save any.

Posted by: oj at November 22, 2004 3:57 PM

Hillary's gonna run on an anti-Hispanic platform? Sure. Nationwide, the Hispanic vote is still a Dem bastion, though the tide is starting to turn. There's no way Hillary could afford to alienate such a large voting bloc in her own party.

The idea that she would get more white male votes with this approach is laughable. I figure that WM's nationwide go at least 65-35 against her under any circumstances. Which, not so incidentally, is why she can't get elected...but she can sure get nominated.

Posted by: Casey Abell at November 22, 2004 4:01 PM

I'm with Pat H. and vince. I'd like to see a poll of Hispanic citizens on the subject. Forget the exit polls they're useless in my opinion. Patrick Ruffini is back and has a "modest proposal" on exit polls ... my pet peeve.

Posted by: genecis at November 22, 2004 5:33 PM

I agree with greatly increasing security of the borders. If we make it easy for legal immigration with background checks, it will mostly be criminals trying to sneak in. Treat them like the bad element that they are. Fingerprint them, send them back and permanently bar them from gaining legal entry on the first offense. For a second offense 5 years in prison and send them back. I truly worry that the next big terrorist event in the country will be do to the porous border with Mexico.

Posted by: Pat H at November 22, 2004 6:44 PM

Rather than shutting down the Mexican/American border and keeping out all Mexican immigrants, the US should annex Mexico and make it the 51st - 60th states.

The southern tip of Mexico is much easier to patrol than the southern US border is, so we won't have to worry about illegal immigrants any longer.
Once American companies and management get control of Mexico's resources, and Mexican society gets the benefit of a dependable and effective police force and judiciary, there'll be an economic boom to rival the tech bubble, but based on actual production this time.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at November 22, 2004 7:13 PM


Why don't we just take over the world?

Posted by: Vince at November 22, 2004 7:30 PM


We missed that "once in a millenium" opportunity 160 years ago, we don't get another until the 30th Century.

Posted by: Dave at November 22, 2004 8:51 PM