“So, if we have people who were brought here ‘through no fault of their own,’ are amazingly smart and industrious, and all serve in the military and kill Al Qaeda terrorists with their bare hands, should they be deported?”
“No? Great! Now it’s time for completely open borders.”
That essentially describes the attitude of the political class at this point.
It’s one thing to put out BS polling as a propaganda tool; it’s quite another to actually believe it yourself and implement political strategy accordingly. That is the mistake Democrats have made by obsessing over superficial polling suggesting that Americans, including conservative Republicans, are clamoring for amnesty.
The reality of the polling tells quite a different story.
The immigration polling dynamic is very similar to the dynamic of the gun issue. Democrats have touted polls showing support for expanded background checks as high as 90 percent. “Do you want criminals to get guns or not?” a pollster would ask.
But even honest Democrat strategists will admit that the reality of the gun issue is just the opposite — the issue as a whole, especially when you weigh the intensity of the sides, is a major loser for Democrats. In general, people want more pro-gun legislation, not less. Just ask Bill Clinton and Al Gore.
The same dynamic applies to immigration. Isolating a largely abstract and mythical population of illegals 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.
A very thorough and comprehensive poll from Harvard-Harris shows that Americans want a dramatic cut in legal immigration and a transition to merit-based immigration. Here is a list of some of the questions and results:
Question: “Do you think immigration priority for those coming to the U.S. should be based on a person’s ability to contribute to America as measured by their education and skills or based on a person having relatives in the U.S.?”
Results: The merit side won by a margin of 79 percent to 21 percent. Support for merit-based priorities was 72 percent among Hispanics and 85 percent among blacks. Seventy-two percent of self-described Democrats and 65 percent of self-described liberals agreed. Yet you will never see news stories or even Republican politicians touting the fact that even liberal Democrats support merit-based over chain migration.
Question: In your opinion, about how many legal immigrants should be admitted to the U.S. each year?
This is as non-leading and non-push-polling as a polling question can get. No preconceived notions of “no fault of their own” or “brought to America by parents.” This is a straight-up question of numbers. Only 19 percent chose options ranging from 1 million to over 1 million. Our official level of immigration every year is about 1.1 million, but between 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. Eighteen percent chose the 500,000-1 million option, 19 percent chose 250,000-499,999, and 35 percent (including 48 percent of blacks) – by far the largest share – chose 100,000-250,000.
This means that a clear majority want less than half the current intake, if not one third of the current intake, a result that would not even be achieved through passage of the RAISE Act. In total, 81 percent desire less immigration than our average recent intake, and less than 12 percent want the level of immigration from our most recent year. That is not much more than the 9 percent on the other extreme who said they want absolutely no immigration whatsoever.
Talk about the silent majority! Most of the numbers were pretty uniform across all demographics, too.
Other findings of the poll: 61 percent feel that border security is inadequate; 68 percent (including 62 percent of Democrats) oppose the diversity visa lottery; and only 22 percent want open-border policies.
Yet the media will just latch onto the one question about giving work permits or a path to citizenship to “those brought here by their parents,” to which 78 percent answered in the affirmative. The problem with this question is that it gives no context as to who these people are, which priorities should come first, and whether they should get welfare.
What if voters were told that most people in this group have only a high school diploma, don’t know English very well (unlike the ones the media puts on camera), and would likely be on welfare and rely heavily on refundable tax credits?
What if voters were told that young illegal immigrants were even more likely to commit crimes, particularly gruesome ones, than older ones and that in Arizona they were 884 times more likely to be convicted of a crime?
What if they were told that 535 DACA recipients who were ordered deported for serious crimes are still roaming our communities and that this is not even a discussion in the negotiations?
What if they were told that DACA is what spawned the Central American wave of border crossings, as confirmed by the El Paso Intelligence Center, the Congressional Research Service, the Washington Post, and the Migration Policy Institute, that the new promise to ratify DACA is rejuvenating the border surge, and that up to 30 percent of unaccompanied minors (or purported minors) detained by immigration authorities as a result of DACA have ties to MS-13 gangs?
What if voters were asked whether we should grant amnesty before fixing immigration and security for Americans and risk more illegal immigration or if we should first prioritize security and legal reforms?
What if they were told that as soon as these people have children, they will immediately be eligible for welfare and already get refundable tax credits?
Clearly, the electorate is a lot more outraged at our stolen sovereignty and at America becoming a dumping ground for the world’s criminals than they are about the urgency for a limited amnesty for the “best and the brightest.”
So what does this all mean?
If Republicans would embrace sovereignty and security and run on lowering immigration, making it merit-based, deporting all criminal aliens, ending welfare for immigrants, and stopping automatic citizenship for future children of illegal aliens, they would be leading this election season in a heartbeat. And even if one believes there is a clamor and intensity for amnesty, the Goodlatte bill incorporates both elements – so they can have their cake and eat it too.
When will Republicans stop listening to their phony consultants, who have done them a disservice on this issue for decades? Common sense is the best poll of all.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.