How African Americans View Immigration Reform

For as much as immigration reform is talked about as an unqualified good for Democrats (who need to protect their standing with Latinos) and Republicans (who need to improve it), it’s not nearly that simple. The GOP relies on high support from working-class whites to win elections. These are the same people who view increased immigration with trepidation—after all, a large influx of low-wage workers means new competitors for jobs, housing, and education. Given the wage stagnation of the last 20 years, there is real fear of increased immigration and its implication for their livelihoods.

On the other side are African Americans, who are disproportionately working-class, and more likely to view Latino immigrants as economic competitors. Economic interest suggests strong support for a more restrictionist immigration regime from this group of blacks. And given the role “linked fate” plays in shaping African American public opinion—in short, perceptions of racial group interests serve as heuristics for individual interests, and vice versa—this support should cut across class barriers and come from all sides of the black community, thus presenting a problem for reform-minded Democrats.

It turns out, however, that immigration is one issue where self-interest might matter more than group interest for African Americans. While linked fate can reliably predict black opinion on a whole range of issues—from high support for the Democratic Party to high support for President Obama’s health care law—Tatishe Nteta, a political scientist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, finds that it’s less reliable when the question comes to immigration. There, views differ by class: Working-class blacks, like working-class whites, show substantially more support for restrictive immigration policies:

Middle-class blacks, by contrast, are less driven by economic self-interest when assessing immigration reform proposals. “For African Americans who lost a job to an immigrant,” writes Ntete, “working-class membership resulted in a 13 percentage point increase” in support for more restrictive laws, compared to middle-class blacks, who show a similar level of support regardless of their employment situation vis-à-vis immigrants.

As far as practical politics goes, this suggests two things. First, Democrats probably won’t have a “black” problem if they go forward with comprehensive immigration reform. What they might have, however, is a working-class problem, as lower-income blacks and whites show resistance to plans for more immigration. Given the Democratic Party’s weakness with working-class whites, that isn’t a huge concern. But losing black voters—even if it’s just a few percentage points—could disadvantage the party in southern states like Virginia and North Carolina, where overwhelming black support is required to stay competitive. A little less enthusiasm, and a few fewer votes, could keep a statewide candidate from reaching a majority.

And indeed, if Republicans are feeling ambitious, this divide could form the basis for outreach to working-class blacks. Historically, Republicans have been able to win 10 percent of African Americans in presidential elections. A return to that performance would make several states—Ohio and Pennsylvania, for instance—far more competitive than they are at the moment. Insofar that the GOP wants to cleave the Democratic coalition, immigration might offer a way to reach one group of working-class voters.

Comments

A new worldwide book/ebook explains the role, struggles, and contributions of immigrants and minorities: "What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z: How to understand crazy American culture, people, government, business, language and more." Endorsed by ambassadors, educators, and editors, it paints a revealing picture of America on numerous subjects to help those who will benefit from a better understanding.
Immigrants and the children they bear account for 60 percent of our nation's population growth and are 60 percent more likely to start a new business than native-born Americans. It identifies the multitude of "foreigners" who became successful in the US and contributed to our society. However, most struggle in their efforts and need guidance. Perhaps intelligent immigration reform, White House-Congress cooperation, concerned citizens and books like this can extend a helping hand to those in need.
Here's a closing quote from the book's Intro: "With all of our cultural differences though, you'll be surprised to learn how much our countries—and we as human beings—have in common on this little third rock from the sun. After all, the song played at our Disneyland parks around the world is 'It's A Small World After All.' Peace." www.AmericaAtoZ.com

"What they might have, however, is a working-class problem, as lower-income blacks and whites show resistance to plans for more immigration. Given the Democratic Party’s weakness with working-class whites, that isn’t a huge concern. But losing black voters—even if it’s just a few percentage points—could disadvantage the party in southern states like Virginia and North Carolina, where overwhelming black support is required to stay competitive. A little less enthusiasm, and a few fewer votes, could keep a statewide candidate from reaching a majority."

Therein lies the problem with immigration reform. Working class Blacks have been hit the hardest by unemployment as it stands at 14%. The jobs that many African Americans once held have been replaced by Latino workers. No one can afford to overlook this problem especially because African Americans are not immigrants and most have family roots in the US since the inception of this country from slavery.

You need to be logged in to comment.
(If there's one thing we know about comment trolls, it's that they're lazy)

Connect
, after login or registration your account will be connected.
Advertisement