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Immigration’s politics

February 7, 2018

The Republican Party prior to Trump was not so strongly opposed to immigration. It became so when Trump rose to power riding its neo-fascist wing. And there, as with so much else, his rhetoric is remarkably fact-free. His administration suppressed a report from the Department of Health and Human Services showing refugees generate $63 billion more in government revenue than they cost. Trump frequently sells the notion that immigrants increase crime, despite the fact that their increase has coincided with a decrease in crime, and that evidence points to the contrary:

The most striking finding from our research is that for murder, robbery, burglary and larceny, as immigration increased, crime decreased, on average, in American metropolitan areas. The only crime that immigration had no impact on was aggravated assault. These associations are strong and stable evidence that immigration does not cause crime to increase in U.S. metropolitan areas, and may even help reduce it.

So where is someone trying take the rational side of the anti-immigration debate going to hang his hat? According to Ross Douhat, on the grounds that immigration “reduces social cohesion and civic trust.” Douhat provides no evidence for that thesis. He instead references data showing the millenials have less social trust than other generations. His thesis that immigrants are the cause is challenged by the fact that the reddest districts and reddest states are those with the fewest immigrants. So, here’s how Douhat works around that:

In the United States, as in France and England, regions and cities with the largest immigrant populations are often the wealthiest and most dynamic. But this doesn’t mean that poorer regions are dying from their own xenophobia, as is sometimes suggested. The hinterlands are also filled with people who might want to move to wealthier regions (or who used to live there) but can’t because an immigrants-and-professionals ecosystem effectively prices out the middle class.

Why, of course! Missouri and Kansas and other red states are filled with older, white Christians wearing MAGA hats who would move to Los Angeles and Seattle and Boston in a New York minute, if only those cities didn’t have so many immigrants. The Trumpistas haven’t been stoked to an irrational nativist rage by Limbaugh, Hannity, and Coulter bleating about Sharia law and other imagined dangers from immigrants. Immigrants they rarely encounter, who nonetheless are made into targets of populist rage by the religious right, political pundits, and Trump. No, the Trumpistas simply and quite rationally are disappointed that they have been crowded out of their preferred places to live. Large, liberal cities.

Sigh. Douthat should consider the possibility that one reason the millenials are distrusting is they read middle-aged pundits, in high journalist position and pretending to moderation, write absurdity in defense of the deplorable.

As the Trump administration deports more chemistry teachers and other bad hombres, the senate works toward a bipartisan plan, which Trump promptly rejects. He is intent on treating the Dreamers as hostages for whatever he wants. At some point, that likely will fail, because Congress is not designed to negotiate a hostage situation. Nor should Democrats (and some Republicans) sympathetic to the Dreamers be willing to surrender completely to that kind of political terrorism. The Dreamers who don’t have contingency plans already in place need to act quickly.

And those who refuse to see the neo-fascist turn in this nation? They are as blinkered as Ross Douhat. Well, there is one thing fascist leaders always love. A military parade.


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