Do Republicans want to win?
A Harvard-Harris poll from August showed that voters believe immigration is the most important issue of this election. Among Republicans, no other issue even comes close. Now, a new poll commissioned by Numbers USA shows that voters in every state subscribe to the conservative view, which has been adopted by the president, that immigration should be lower across the board and more merit-based. Why is this not a priority among Republicans both in their legislative work and on the campaign trail? Why are they prioritizing weak-on-crime laws, which are also opposed by a majority of voters, before dealing with true immigration reform?
That we have brought in too many immigrants too quickly for too long and that our system is random and oriented more toward chain migration and the third world than those with extraordinary merit is not lost on the public, even as it’s lost on the political elites in both parties. Polls have consistently shown that this is one major issue that has broad bipartisan support among all demographics and ideologies, yet there is no movement in Congress toward true immigration reform. The Americans people want less immigration and a smarter legal immigration policy, while Congress continues to define “immigration reform” as amnesty for illegal immigrants. According to the new poll, the majority of voters in 25 key states for this election cycle chose immigration levels at least 25 percent lower than the current one as their ideal levels. In most states, it was a supermajority.
The favorite choice among all options was a level requiring at least a 75 percent cut in annual numbers, from 1 million annually to 250,000. Our official level of immigration every year is about 1.1 million, but with other de facto permanent programs, as many as 1.8 million immigrants were likely admitted in 2016. The American people clearly reject it and would never support it if the numbers were advertised.
The problem with immigration polling trending the opposite way, disseminated by the media and credulously believed by the GOP, is that it is leading questions built on straw men. For example:
“Are we a nation of immigrants?”
“Do you think immigrants are good?”
“Should we deport those who served in the military?”
These are obviously politically biased and leading questions.
Isolating a largely abstract and mythical population of immigrants and encapsulating it into a poll doesn’t reflect where people’s hearts and priorities are on this issue. But the answers to very straightforward polling questions of whether we have too much or too little immigration, whether immigrants should assimilate, whether immigrants should get welfare, whether immigrants should learn English, and whether immigration should be merit-based as opposed to family-based are indeed very reflective of where the national mood is on immigration. And deep down, Democrats know this.
The question in the new Numbers USA poll was very straightforward with absolutely no bias or pretext. There was no mention of the fact that our system is not merit-based and that the sheer numbers are unprecedented:
Current federal policy adds about one million new immigrants with lifetime work permits each year. Which is closest to the number of new immigrants the government should be adding each year — less than 250,000, 500,000, 750,000, one million, one and a half million, or more than two million?
This is the question none of the policymakers want to grapple with, but the voters are clear. Overall, the combined average for the 25 states polled — a mixture of red, blue, and purple states — was 62 percent in favor of cutting immigration by at least 25 percent. Only 25 percent of respondents were in favor of the same level or more immigration. Some red states like West Virginia (72 percent-16 percent) and Louisiana (70 percent-20 percent) had lopsided margins. But even in blue states with large numbers of immigrants, such as California (56 percent-32 percent, New York (57 percent-33 percent), Illinois (51 percent-36 percent), and Nevada (63 percent-24 percent), a clear majority supported cuts to current levels.
The 25 states were polled over a 15-month period between 2017 and 2018, but the results have been amazingly durable and stable for years.
Tom Cotton’s Raise Act (S.354), which has been endorsed by the president, would reorient our system towards a merit-based points system rather than one built on chain migration and would cut immigration by 30-40 percent. It would also end the diversity visa lottery. It is simply astounding that one year after a Bangladeshi national who came here through the diversity visa lottery attempted to blow up a New York subway, there was not even a committee-level vote on ending this cloddishly random program overwhelmingly opposed by the public.
Polls have consistently shown that when respondents are asked unbiased and intuitive questions about immigration, they overwhelmingly oppose the status quo of the political class. Several months ago, a comprehensive poll from Harvard-Harris showed that voters favored a merit-based immigration system over a family-based one by 79-21 with supermajorities in support among self-described Hispanics, blacks, and liberals.
The GOP is sitting on its best issue and refuse to adopt it and message it hard every day. Imagine what Republicans’ electoral prospects would look like if they’d spend every day militating against our stolen sovereignty at the border and against the backward immigration system?
There’s an important lesson for the silent majority of the country. Aristide Zolberg, one of the leading immigration historians of recent memory, asked the question in his scholarly book, “A Nation by Design,” how it is that during every immigration battle since 1965, the public wanted a cool-off but the legislation wound up “moving in the opposite direction.” Citing other commentators, he noted that “while public support for a reduction in legal immigration was broad, it was not well-organized. … In contrast, a liberal coalition of well-organized organized groups, including ethnic organizations, churches, and employer associations, articulated strong opposition to proposals for restricting legal immigration.”
Conservatives need to get organized every day between every other November to focus on the pending legislative, budget, and primary fights rather than hibernate between every election. We can’t afford to go back to sleep after submitting our ballots. Voting Republican does nothing if the franchise is not followed up with accountability. If Republicans lose the House, rest assured they will issue another “autopsy report” suggesting the need to move further left on immigration. Lindsey Graham, the big “conservative hero,” is already pushing another round of amnesty.
As it says in Proverbs 4:19, “The way of the wicked is like pitch darkness; they do not know on what they stumble.” We must be ready to shine light on the truth of this important issue and finally demand true immigration reform.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.