Category Archives: Immigration

More on immigration and border militarization from Professor Massey

I blogged on this two posts ago, but it’s worth re-emphasizing. And this time Dr. Massey got to broadcast the message on NPR!

That’s one of the great paradoxes of immigration today. The more porous you make the border and the easier you make it for people to come and go, the fewer people actually settle in the country of destination. So if you have a more flexible immigration policy and you admit that, well, Mexico, the United States are in fact integrating economically under the North American Free Trade Agreement, and allow for legitimate cross-border movements as a result of that integration, you’ll end up with fewer migrant populations actually settling in the United States and a smaller rate of undocumented. Or you would not even have undocumented migration, and you’d have a smaller rate of immigrant population growth.

Full NPR interview available here.

Increased border security leads to more undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

According to Massey, the rise of America’s large undocumented population is a direct result of the militarization of the border. While undocumented workers once traveled back and forth from Mexico with relative ease, after the border was garrisoned, immigrants from Mexico crossed the border and stayed.

“Migrants quite rationally responded to the increased costs and risks by minimizing the number of times they crossed the border,” Massey wrote in his 2007 paper “Understanding America’s Immigration ‘Crisis.'” “But they achieved this goal not by remaining in Mexico and abandoning their intention to migrate to the U.S., but by hunkering down and staying once they had run the gauntlet at the border and made it to their final destination.”

Full article here:

“Is Immigration Reform Dead? Not If Evangelicals Can Do Anything About It” – Atlantic Mobile

“Based on interviews with evangelical leaders, political strategists, and policymakers, this is an inside look at how the evangelical movement became a major backer of immigration reform, how it turned traditional political allegiances on their head, and what the future holds.”

“Research Suggests ‘Hidden’ Support for Immigration Reform Among Conservatives”

From my latest Huffington Post entry:

The results of this political science research suggest that GOP House members should not worry quite as much about a possible primary threat from a more anti-immigrant challenger if they support comprehensive immigration reform. Those in the Republican primary electoral base are not as concerned about the possible influence of foreigners on American culture as conventional wisdom would have us believe. Indeed, this research suggests that there is more “hidden” support out there for immigrant-friendly policies like comprehensive immigration reform, especially among Republican primary voters.

Full article available here:

Some thoughts on the political implications of voting for comprehensive immigration reform in the House

There has been some speculation recently as to the political consequences for members of the House of Representatives on what is likely to be a summer vote on comprehensive immigration reform (see here and here, e.g.). Much of this discourse has focused on the general narrative that Republican elites want to pass comprehensive immigration reform so as to broaden their appeal to the Latino electorate, but that several of the GOP rank-and-file in the House may not vote for it because of fear that they’ll lose their next election in 2014.

Here’s my take on that particular narrative and the incentives involved for the various groups in the House:

Democrats from liberal districts: They will vote for immigration reform and they have every incentive from their constituents to do so.

Democrats from conservative districts: They might vote for it or they might vote against it; their constituents will probably not want them to. Either way, this group is not as influential simply because most of them lost in the 2010 midterm election. There aren’t enough left to drive the agenda!

Republicans from liberal districts: Not overly relevant: there are even fewer of them than there are Democrats from conservative districts.

Republicans from conservative districts: The question with this group is whether or not a Republican would risk losing their next election if they vote for comprehensive immigration reform against the wishes of their constituents. While there is some evidence (see here) that specific votes for Obama’s agenda cost representatives a few percentage points in the 2010 presidential election, the available evidence strongly suggests that Republican partisans, given the choice between voting for a Republican who voted for immigration reform and a Democrat, they’ll choose the Republican. The more relevant threat to these Republicans would be from a potential primary challenger. Focusing on that possibility would make for a more interesting and relevant narrative, from my perspective.

Finally, I tend to agree with those who argue that even if the GOP jumps on board and passes comprehensive immigration reform, there will likely not be a mass exodus of Latino parties to the Republican party in the 2014 or 2016 elections. Latinos, like most other demographic groups, are fairly stable with their partisan identities and voting preferences. If the GOP wants to regain some recent losses among Latinos, they should expect to have to dig in for the long haul. 

Republican support for pathway to citizenship changes with penalty emphasis

According to a recent survey experiment by PRRI, Republican support for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants increases by over 20% when the penalties are emphasized:

More (anecdotal) evidence that religious leaders can influence immigration views

Two years ago, national evangelical leaders began to speak out in favor of legislation to give legal status to immigrants in the United States illegally. Now, as Congress is about to start a debate on overhauling the immigration system, conservative Christians, once inclined to take a hard line on immigrants they viewed as lawbreakers, are consulting their Bibles and coming around to the pastors’ view.

“I feel I would be representative of a typical longtime Baptist, one who grew up in the Baptist Church, who was raised in an evangelical family, and I would identify myself as a conservative Republican,” said Jay Crenshaw, 36, a lawyer in Orlando who attended a service at the megachurch last Sunday. “And I can tell you how much my views have changed.”

Full article available here:

“Can Religious Leaders Sway Parishioners on Immigration? Research Says Yes”

Ultimately, these studies indicate that to one degree or another, American congregants of all political stripes tend to follow the lead of their religious leaders when it comes to immigration. President Obama was smart to enlist their support as he works with Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration overhaul this year.

Full article available here:

New immigration survey out from PRRI/Brookings

Full results here:

Some highlights:

  • “More than 7-in-10 (71%) Democrats, nearly two-thirds (64%) of independents, and a majority (53%) of Republicans favor an earned path to citizenship.”
  • “Majorities of all religious groups, including Hispanic Catholics (74%), Hispanic Protestants (71%), black Protestants (70%), Jewish Americans (67%), Mormons (63%), white Catholics (62%), white mainline Protestants (61%), and white evangelical Protestants (56%) agree that the immigration system should allow immigrants currently living in the U.S. illegally to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements.”

The nationally-representative sample of more than 4,500 respondents makes this an especially useful survey.

Public Religion Research Institute / Brookings to release immigration survey

I’m excited about the upcoming release of the results of this survey:

On March 21, the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and the religion, policy and politics project at Brookings will host a forum to release a new national opinion survey on religion, values and immigration reform. With nearly 4,500 respondents, the survey is one of the largest ever conducted on the issue of immigration. The accompanying research report, authored by PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones, PRRI Research Director Daniel Cox, and PRRI Research Associate Juhem Navarro-Rivera, along with Brookings Senior Fellows E.J. Dionne, Jr. and William Galston explores general sentiment toward immigrant communities, opinions on the impact that immigrants have on American culture and public support for specific policy approaches to immigration reform. The report also explores support for immigration policy among religious groups and the political implications of the issue for and within both the Democratic and Republican parties.

More information available here: