Two Views On Immigration

One of the issues that is being debated following this week's Democratic victory in the 2006 midterm elections is whether Republican candidates were hurt by the perception that they are too "anti—immigrant."  This is the argument being made by Linda Chavez , who is a reliable Republican and also a strong proponent of easy immigration. 

She highlights a number of races in which the "anti—immigrant" Republican candidate lost, including J.D. Haynsworth in Arizona, John Hostettler in Indiana, and Bob Beauprez, who was defeated in his quest for the governorship of Colorado.  Chavez argues that these election results demonstrate that most Americans support so—called "comprehensive" immigration reform, rather than the enforcement—first strategy endorsed by many House Republicans.

Terrence Jeffrey, the editor of Human Events, has analyzed several races in which Democratic candidates unseated Republicans, including Hostettler in Indiana.  Jeffrey points out that in each of these races, the Democratic candidate ran on a very "culturally conservative" message, including not only opposition to abortion, gun control, and eminent domain abuse, but also opposition to amnesty for illegal aliens.  In other words, they were running against President Bush's position on immigration (which is shared by Linda Chavez' organization, the Center for Equal Opportunity).  So were the voters saying they opposed amnesty or opposed the "hard line" stance taken by the House Republicans?

I think the available polling data shows that President Bush's position is the minority view on this issue (no pun intended).  For example, according to a CNN poll from late September, 66% of adults disapproved of the way President Bush is handling immigration and 54% favored building a fence along the Mexican border.  A Fox News poll from July reported that 51% of adults favored decreasing legal immigration.  A CBS poll from May reported that 62% favored using the National Guard to stop the flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico.

While the particular percentages vary depending on the question asked and the organization doing the polling, there is strong evidence to believe that most Americans favor a significantly enhanced effort to control and reduce illegal (and perhaps even legal) immigration.  Of course, Americans also believe that those immigrants already living here should be treated fairly and humanely (even while we step up deportation efforts), but they definitely believe that the out—of—control influx of immigrants has to be stopped. On this point I disagree with Chavez' argument, and continue to believe that a strong enforcement—first immigration policy is a winning position for Republicans.  Unfortunately, since this was not President Bush's position, we will never know for sure what the results of the 2006 election —— which was a referendum on the Bush presidency —— means for this issue.  We'll know by 2008.

Steven M. Warshawsky    11 10 06

One of the issues that is being debated following this week's Democratic victory in the 2006 midterm elections is whether Republican candidates were hurt by the perception that they are too "anti—immigrant."  This is the argument being made by Linda Chavez , who is a reliable Republican and also a strong proponent of easy immigration. 

She highlights a number of races in which the "anti—immigrant" Republican candidate lost, including J.D. Haynsworth in Arizona, John Hostettler in Indiana, and Bob Beauprez, who was defeated in his quest for the governorship of Colorado.  Chavez argues that these election results demonstrate that most Americans support so—called "comprehensive" immigration reform, rather than the enforcement—first strategy endorsed by many House Republicans.

Terrence Jeffrey, the editor of Human Events, has analyzed several races in which Democratic candidates unseated Republicans, including Hostettler in Indiana.  Jeffrey points out that in each of these races, the Democratic candidate ran on a very "culturally conservative" message, including not only opposition to abortion, gun control, and eminent domain abuse, but also opposition to amnesty for illegal aliens.  In other words, they were running against President Bush's position on immigration (which is shared by Linda Chavez' organization, the Center for Equal Opportunity).  So were the voters saying they opposed amnesty or opposed the "hard line" stance taken by the House Republicans?

I think the available polling data shows that President Bush's position is the minority view on this issue (no pun intended).  For example, according to a CNN poll from late September, 66% of adults disapproved of the way President Bush is handling immigration and 54% favored building a fence along the Mexican border.  A Fox News poll from July reported that 51% of adults favored decreasing legal immigration.  A CBS poll from May reported that 62% favored using the National Guard to stop the flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico.

While the particular percentages vary depending on the question asked and the organization doing the polling, there is strong evidence to believe that most Americans favor a significantly enhanced effort to control and reduce illegal (and perhaps even legal) immigration.  Of course, Americans also believe that those immigrants already living here should be treated fairly and humanely (even while we step up deportation efforts), but they definitely believe that the out—of—control influx of immigrants has to be stopped. On this point I disagree with Chavez' argument, and continue to believe that a strong enforcement—first immigration policy is a winning position for Republicans.  Unfortunately, since this was not President Bush's position, we will never know for sure what the results of the 2006 election —— which was a referendum on the Bush presidency —— means for this issue.  We'll know by 2008.

Steven M. Warshawsky    11 10 06