Four Immigration Myths And Credulous Media
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Having written 292 columns over the last six years, I'm inundated by feelings of both satisfaction and frustration when reviewing this year's Congressional and media debates over illegal immigration.

To their credit, House Republicans and much of the blogosphere get it. (See, for example, postings by Untethered, Udolpho, Parapundit, Mickey Kaus, Glaivester, Your Lying Eyes, Pytheas, Chris Roach, Face Right, 2Blowhards, and Mean Mr. Mustard.)

And yet in the more insulated institutions, the Senate and the legacy media, ludicrous falsehoods long ago exploded on and elsewhere are still proffered as if they were indisputable fact.

The lack of accountability and integrity in the mainstream press is striking. A pundit, once established, can apparently propagate nonsense catastrophic to America for years without paying any career price for his incompetence or bad faith.

The appalling legislation approved in the Senate Judiciary Committee with the support of four foolish Republicans (and of all the Democrats, of course) is the unsurprising outcome of the risks I've long pointed out in the Bush-Rove strategy.

A Bush victory in 2004 was always going to hinge on turning out the non-Hispanic white majority in vast numbers. But that was too politically incorrect to explain to the media, so the White House concocted a smokescreen operation bamboozling innumerate reporters into believing that the small Hispanic vote would, somehow, be the key to the GOP victory.

When the Administration finally revealed its open borders immigration plan in January 2004, it pointedly excluded previously illegal aliens and new guest workers from becoming citizens (i.e., voters), precisely because a majority were sure to vote Democratic.

Hilariously, Bush announced he was dead-set against "amnesty." He redefined the word "amnesty" so it no longer meant forgiving lawbreakers for their crimes and allowing them to continue to reap the benefits of their lawbreaking. Indeed, doing exactly that was an essential part of the Bush plan. In a special Humpty-Dumptian sense aimed solely at Republican Congressmen who don't want Democratic-leaning illegal immigrants to get the right to vote, Bush redefined "amnesty" to mean only "giving citizenship to illegals." (Of course, their children born in America get citizenship, so in the long run it doesn't make much difference—the Democrats still benefit.) 

But as I wrote in February 2004 about the cynicism of Bush's plan to institutionalize a new class of disenfranchised helots:

"But Bush's new Machiavellianism automatically cedes the rhetorical high ground to the Democrats, who are already pushing for 'earned legalization' (i.e., giving illegals the vote). Bush is left contradictorily sputtering about how wonderful immigrants are and how we don't want them to become our fellow citizens."

One notorious problem with lying is that you start to believe your own lies. So, for the benefit of GOP senators, let's review some of the most common myths about the political impact of immigration that are constantly retailed in the prestige press, even though they were shot down years ago on

  1. The Hispanic vote is so super-colossal huge that any attempt to limit illegal immigration is automatic political suicide.

Dick Morris, whose client list includes the President of Mexico, went on TV last week, I am told, and declared that Latinos would make up 20 percent of all voters by 2012. Slightly less hysterically, the Wall Street Journal editorialized on Friday:

"Given that the Hispanic share of the electorate has climbed to 8% in 2004 from 2% 20 years ago, and is likely to climb to 12% by 2020, Republicans who ignore Hispanic voters are guaranteeing themselves future political defeats."

In truth, as measured by the gold standard of voting measures, the Census Bureau's survey of 50,000 households right after each election, the Hispanic share of the electorate has climbed to 6.0 percent in 2004 from 3.0 percent 20 years before in 1984. In other words, it doubled over those six elections, not quadrupled as the WSJ asserted.

As you may recall, before the 2004 election, in the tradition of Julian Simon's wager with Paul Ehrlich, I offered to bet neocon immigration-booster Michael Barone $1,000 that the Hispanic share would be closer to my estimate of 6.1 percent than his wild proclamation in U.S. News & World Report that they "could be 9 percent by 2004." He did not take me up on the bet, which is too bad because I could the use the money a lot more than he could.

So, the Hispanic vote has been growing an average of 0.6 points every four years. It's unlikely to reach 12 percent by 2020, unless Congress does something stupid this year, such as putting illegal aliens "on the path to citizenship," which, unfortunately, is what the Senate Judiciary Committee just did.

Also, note that a sizable minority of the Hispanic vote consists of Puerto Ricans and Cubans, who aren't concerned with illegal immigration legislation because they have their own deals.

Moreover, 72 percent of Hispanic voters in 2004 were native-born citizens, so their emotional connection to illegal immigrants is indirect at most. Indeed, surveys show that Hispanic voters have sensibly ambivalent feelings about illegal immigration, since they frequently suffer most directly from it.

Finally, Hispanic voters are concentrated in states and Congressional districts that are seldom up for grabs. For example, two states that were completely out of play in the Electoral College, Texas and California, were home to 47.5 percent of all Hispanic voters.

  1. Bush won 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004.

In the Wall Street Journal today, former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie, now a lobbyist who "represents clients who support a temporary guest worker program," wrote in an op-ed entitled "Populists Beware! The GOP must not become an anti-immigration party":

"Between 2000 and 2004, President Bush increased his support in the Hispanic community by nine percentage points. Had he not, John Kerry would be president today."

No, as we pointed out here in at the time, and is now widely accepted, Bush's improvement among Hispanics was most likely 4 or 5 points, or just a little better than his improvement among non-Hispanic whites of 3 or 4 points.

  1. Bush owes his re-election to Hispanics.

No, Bush owed his re-election to getting his white base to turn out in remarkable numbers. White turnout was up from 60 percent to 67 percent, while Hispanic turnout was stuck at 47 percent.

Bush drew 11.6 million more votes in 2004 than in 2000, of which 9.5 million came from non-Hispanic whites. Whites provided almost an order of magnitude as many incremental Bush votes as the next most important ethnic contributor to his growth, Hispanics, at 0.97 million extra votes.

  1. Opposing illegal immigration in 1994 cost the GOP control of California.

That myth is close to the opposite of the truth. Republican Presidential candidates carried California nine out of ten times from 1952 through 1988, but, beginning in 1992 (two years before Proposition 187), have lost the state by solid margins four times in a row.

Partly this is caused by the rise in numbers of Democratic-voting Hispanics and Asians. But it is also caused by immigration's effect on non-Hispanic whites.

Across the country, Republican performance correlates closely with a state's level of "affordable family formation" because the GOP's family values orientation appeals most to voters with families. The huge increase in California's population, including the Hispanic baby boom triggered by the 1986 illegal alien amnesty, drove up the cost of buying a home and devastated the public schools. This drove many family-oriented voters out of the state, and kept others from getting married and having children. The Total Fertility Rate of white women in California dropped 14% between 1990 and 2000.

Demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institution pointed out to me in 2000:

"Another cause of the rise of the California Democrats is selective out-migration of the more rock-ribbed Republicans. The folks who have been leaving California's suburbs for other states have the white, middle-class demographic profiles of Republican voters. California's middle class families are being squeezed out by real estate prices. And Republicans are heading for whiter states where they won't have to pay taxes for so many social programs for the poor."

So the GOP is currently in the process of cutting its own throat—with an imported knife.

[Steve Sailer [email him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and movie critic for The American Conservative. His website features his daily blog.]

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