March 18, 2019

PITY THE POOR MALTHUSIANS:

Trump and His Allies Have Lost the Public Debate Over Immigration: Over the decades, Americans have grown steadily more supportive of immigration--including under Trump.  (NOAH LANARD, MARCH 18, 2019, Mother Jones)

In 1979, John Tanton, a Michigan eye doctor and environmentalist, launched the modern nativist movement. He believed that population growth would slow down if poor people stayed in developing countries, where poverty and potentially starvation would keep growth in check, but that if they came to places like the United States in larger numbers, the planet would become more overcrowded. So he founded a group called the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which aimed to stop nearly all immigration to the United States. It was initially seen for it what it was: a fringe group based on long-disproven ideas about the planet's ability to support more people. 

Forty years later, FAIR would seem to be in its heyday. At least three former FAIR employees, including its former executive director, have been hired for senior roles at US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency responsible for legal immigration. And the White House has taken a more sharply anti-immigration stand than in any administration of the modern era.

But when it comes to swaying public opinion to its view that legal immigration should be all but eliminated, FAIR and its offshoots are farther from success than ever.

Twenty-five years ago, Democrats and Republicans felt the same way about immigrants: The Pew Research Center found that nearly two-thirds of both parties agreed they were a burden. Immigration critics were confident that those numbers would increase as a backlash to rising immigration took hold among native-born Americans. Instead, the opposite happened. By the time Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign, the share of Democrats and independents who said immigrants strengthen America had nearly doubled, while Republican opinion on the question had barely budged.

And under Trump, anti-immigrant sentiment has fallen even further as the president's rhetoric about immigrants alienates large swaths of the public. According to a Pew poll from January, 55 percent of Republicans--8 percent fewer than in May 2015--and a record-low 13 percent of Democrats believe that immigrants burden the United States by taking jobs, housing, and health care from native-born Americans. And according to Gallup surveys, 67 percent of Americans now say immigration should be increased or kept at its present level, the highest number since Gallup began asking the question in 1965. 

Racism is a tough sell in America.

Posted by at March 18, 2019 4:00 AM

  

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