Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Nativism doesn't appear to be on much of a rise

PH2010032103330.jpg

There's been plenty of overheated rhetoric and creative paranoia on display this year, but nativism has been, to me, the dog that didn't bark. The Tea Parties haven't been very focused on immigration, and while abortion and socialism both became major issues during health-care reform, fears that the bill would cover illegal immigrants (it won't, incidentally) never became a marquee issue.

But in The American Prospect, Gabriel Arana suggests that the situation has worsened for immigrants, even if it's been a quiet deterioration: "Since the 2006 protests, membership in anti-immigrant groups has increased 600 percent," Arana reports. "The number of these groups has also risen from around 40 in 2005 to over 250 today." He also notes that most of the moderate Republicans who once seemed friendly to immigration reform have abandoned the issue, with Sen. John McCain being the most visible example.

Is that evidence of broader shifts in public opinion, though? The polling I can find -- and there's not that much of it -- paints a cheerier picture. A CNN poll asked whether respondents would like to see the number of illegal immigrants in the country increased or decreased. Between 2006 and 2008, "decreased" got between 65% and 69% In October of 2009, it got...73%. An increase, but nothing catastrophic.

Perhaps more on point, a Washington Post poll asked "Would you support or oppose a program giving illegal immigrants now living in the United States the right to live here legally if they pay a fine and meet other requirements?" At various points in 2007, support for this ranged from 48% to 59%. In April of 2009 -- which was well into the recession -- support hit 61%.

I wouldn't draw any overly firm conclusions from these numbers. But they don't paint a picture of nativism on an unchecked rise. And perhaps that's to be expected. People blame this recession on Wall Street. Illegal immigrants, love 'em or hate 'em, aren't at the forefront of people's minds.

Photo credit: Marvin Joseph/the Washington Post Photo.

By Ezra Klein  |  March 30, 2010; 8:08 AM ET
Categories:  Immigration , Polls  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: The new new housing plan
Next: 'Constitutional yearning'

Comments

"membership in anti-immigrant groups has increased 600 percent"

Is that anti-immigrant groups, or anti-illegal immigrant groups? There is a difference, you know, and it's a pretty important one.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 30, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Once again, it's the welfare state that is the problem at the root of "illegal" immigration. There's no reason we couldn't have open borders, if there weren't a pile of freebies on this side acting as inducements to come and partake.

Posted by: msoja | March 30, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Normally I'm a liberal Democrat, but I don't want any more immigration from Africa or the Middle East. Enough is enough. No more muslims, for Heaven's sake. Minneapolis and the Somalis there should be a situation that screams warnings like bombblasts. No more Muslims! We've got enough homegrown nuts without importing them too.

As far as you ideas on immigration, you don't have to a rightwinger not to want any more of those people here.

Posted by: webmaker02 | March 30, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for a very balanced and non-liberal paranoid take on this Ezra. It is tiring when liberals attribute any resistance to their policies as rooted in racism and I'm glad that you have gone a different direction here.

Posted by: panza2mil | March 30, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Clearly you haven't been paying attention to Tom Tancredo, among others.

Nativism -- and its attendant racism -- are very much alive and well.

Every time a Teabagger screams about wanting "their" country back, or talks about a certain person (or persons) not being "American" enough (or at all), that's nativism. When they are complaining about "people trampling their Constitutional rights" or what the (all white male) "Founding Fathers" would want or would do, that's nativism.

Don't kid yourself or your readers. It is right there in very plain sight.

Posted by: jade_7243 | March 30, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

one doesn't have to be a "nativist", to know a difference between a lawful immigration, and illegal crossing. I am a naturalized American, it took me many years to become one. It drives me crazy when see on voting cards subtitles in Spanish (I live in TX). To become a citizen, one has to speak English, so why there is another language on the voting cards? Why do we establish a law, then say, never mind, we have to pander to a huge "minority", which is not a minority, but foreign nationals? Why our Congress panders to foreign nationals more than listening to own people? I support rights of minorities, but why should I support people who disregard the law of this country, come illegally, "settle" here, like migratory birds, then complain about dividing families when caught? All I want is the law being respected. People come here from all over the world, to become "one people", Americans, not Mexican - Americans, etc. Our melting pot has unmelted chunks, because the very people who pass the laws, the Congress, is unwilling to enforce them. It makes me sad, angry, and very disappointed. That's all.

Posted by: wggodek | March 30, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

"People blame this recession on Wall Street. Illegal immigrants, love 'em or hate 'em, aren't at the forefront of people's minds."

Thanks Ezra, now some enterprising marketing manager at one of the "Too Big" banks is going to realize how to get their bonus back.

Posted by: Jaycal | March 30, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Many if not most of the illegals in the USA have come to work, not to obtain "freebies" as many of you complain about. I worked 4 yrs for the SSA and 4 yrs with the IRS and speak from experience when I say this. First and foremost, most if not all illegals pay taxes, yes even FICA taxes that most of them NEVER collect on i.e. SSA retirement, SSA survivors benefits and SSA death benefits. This is because their FICA taxes are credited to a bogus SSN or someone else's SSN account resulting in what we call a "scrambled earnings" case. Also, survivors of deceased illegals fail to file for survivors benefits because they are not aware of their eligibility and in many cases do not have the paperwork to piece together the FICA taxes paid by the wage-earner. In many cases, we found illegals injured on the job left the country without knowing about or filing for SSA disability benefits. Needless to say, illegals have contributed more to our revenues than they have taken out and have done so without complaining about it like Americans.

Posted by: NotAJoke | March 30, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

@jade: "When they are complaining about "people trampling their Constitutional rights" or what the (all white male) "Founding Fathers" would want or would do, that's nativism."

Whenever anyone doesn't agree with me, or vote the way I do: that's nativism. Any time anybody complains about the agenda of my ideological brethren: that's nativism.

Anything I want to call nativism, because it labels people I don't like in a way that makes them easier to ignore, insult or dismiss? I'll call that nativism. Without the slightest hint of irony.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 30, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Kevin, you must be using the same dictionary that defines conservative use of terms like socialism, fascism, and Armageddon.
The real definition of nativism: the policy of protecting the interests of native inhabitants against those of immigrants, or the policy or practice of preserving or reviving an indigenous culture. I don't see anything in your use of the term that suggests anything about protection of native culture or inhabitants.
Jade's view is not a slap at conservatives or Tea Partiers, but a position I've heard articulated on cable, and read most recently in Frank Rich's piece, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/28/opinion/28rich.html?src=tp. I think they've got a valid point. It may not apply to every individual conservative or Tea Partier, but there's defunitely an nativist undercurrent present in many of the signs and statements of those who affiliate with these interests, and no denouncement of such extremism by politicians (and some who actually encourage it with calls to "take the country back").
It's an idea worth some thoughtful discussion, not distorted name-calling.

Posted by: reach4astar2 | March 30, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

---some who actually encourage it with calls to "take the country back"---

I don't know if you remember clear back to the summer of '08, but that was one of the major themes of the Obama campaign.

It's political gibberish, nothing more.

And Frank Rich is only slightly a bigger moron and propagandist than Klein.

Posted by: msoja | March 30, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

---First and foremost, most if not all illegals pay taxes, yes even FICA taxes that most of them NEVER collect on---

Well, it's not like they do that *voluntarily* or anything. They only do that because the federal government has its boot on the neck of every employer in the country, forcing them to do its dirty work.

Posted by: msoja | March 30, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

reach4astar2: "Kevin, you must be using the same dictionary that defines conservative use of terms like socialism, fascism, and Armageddon."

I'm not entirely sure what point you're trying to make with that, but if you're suggesting that socialism, fascism and Armageddon mean specific things and that it becomes difficult to have a dialog when the congress passing a piece of legislation that has some things that you don't like in it "Armageddon", then I agree.

"Jade's view is not a slap at conservatives or Tea Partiers"

I didn't say it was. Or imply. I implied that it was a too broad application of a specific term. Wanting to "take your country back" is not inherently nativist, unless followed up with "from foreigners". Worrying about having your constitutional rights trampled might be hyperbole, but how is that nativist? Given the specific definition you provided, how can you say that that is necessarily nativist? Even opposition to illegal immigration is not inherently nativist, if you favor legal immigration and expanding legal immigration? Even wanting English to be the official language of the United States is more monolingualist that nativist.

"It's an idea worth some thoughtful discussion, not distorted name-calling."

Whose calling names? Technically, I'm rebutting name-calling. If perhaps my tone was a little too laced with attitude, I apologize. But the point was such a broad application of "nativist" implies a generality that covers almost any political position or statement the user doesn't like.

If you want thoughtful discussion, then when certain words are used in an overly-broad sense, one should be able to point that out.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 30, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

@msoja: "I don't know if you remember clear back to the summer of '08, but that was one of the major themes of the Obama campaign."

But Obama can't be considered a nativist, because he's a Democrat. Even more than that, he's a liberal. So liberals and Democrats can repeatedly use the sort of language that, when it comes from conservatives or Tea Party types, is referred to as "coded racism" and "nativism".

Because it can't be coded racism or nativism from liberals or Democrats, because they can't be racist. They can't be nativist. It's just not possible, so it would prima facie absurd to suggest that Obama's campaign of "taking the country back" or the Democrats 2006 campaign of "taking the country back" was nativist or racist.

While, on the other hand, it is understood by all right-thinking people that most if not all conservatives are racists and xenophobes (otherwise, they would agree with liberals), so almost anything they say that expresses an opinion or preference can be interpreted as nativism, racism, sexism, or some form of mental retardation.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 30, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

For people who refer to undocumented immigrants as 'illegal', I'd be interested to hear just what you think makes you a legal citizen. Are you a Native American? Or were you just fortunate enough to be born in the U.S. in a time far enough removed from the illegal land purchases and seizures that formed the modern United States that no one talks about it anymore?

One can refer to the need for increased border security or a better system of immigration and documentation without debasing the status of people who came here to live and work.

Posted by: andrewbaron78 | March 30, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

America generously allows a million LEGAL IMMIGRANTS in each year. We are a target for the scofflaws of all nations that come as ILLEGAL ALIENS, such as the Russian Mafia, Salvadoran MS-13 and the 9/11 terrorists. Most LEGAL IMMIGRANTS and ILLEGAL ALIENS come from Mexico.


In the last 15 years millions of legal immigrants from Mexico have followed their dream to America. They respect our laws, culture, freedom, opportunity and people. They have gladly submitted to extensive criminal background checks and health checks. They have paid $1,000s in fees, proven financial responsibility, agreed to not be a financial burden on our nation, learned English and waited patiently to become citizens of the U.S. and pledge their allegiance to our nation. They are honest, have integrity and good character and are welcome additions to our community.

During the same time millions more have come from Mexico illegally to make more money. They have overstayed visas and stolen across our borders like sneak thieves, disrespecting our laws, culture and citizens. They are anarchists, further breaking our laws by using stolen Social Security numbers, fraudulent identity documents, driving without valid licenses or insurance, lying on I-9 forms and taking American jobs in an unholy alliance with criminal employers. They suck services and tax dollars from our economy and could care less about the very real and very extensive economic damage they have caused to American workers through lost jobs and reduced wages. They are dishonest with poor integrity and tarnished character. They have proven themselves to be unworthy of the most valuable citizenship in the world.

Posted by: Estoban | March 30, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Uh, webmaker02, I don't pretend to know your stances on any number of issues, but the style of thinking that you displayed is far more indicative of a populist (a strand of thought with a long and sordid history in both parties) than a liberal. You may be a very, very loyal Democrat, but there is little chance that a true liberal could have made the statements you did about "those" people... not to mention that the majority of people in Africa are Christians... and far more devout than the average American Christian (so your statement on that account was pure nonsense).

Posted by: orgbluspider | March 30, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

People who are in the US illegally are in my opinion criminals not immigrants and should be treated as such.They should never be rewarded for their criminality by granting Amnesty and eventual citizenship.

Posted by: cropsey71 | March 30, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

"I support rights of minorities, but why should I support people who disregard the law of this country, come illegally, "settle" here, like migratory birds, then complain about dividing families when caught?"

Because there's nothing more American than cheap chicken and cut-price lawn work paid in cash?

Posted by: pseudonymousinnc | March 30, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

CNN Poll: 3 out of 4 want illegal immigration decreased

WASHINGTON (CNN) – A new national poll indicates that nearly three-quarters of all Americans would like to see a decrease in the number of illegal immigrants in the country.

Seventy-three percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday morning called for a drop in the number of illegal immigrants, with 22 percent saying the number should remain the same and just 3 percent stating that there should be an increase in the number of illegal immigrants. That 73 percent figure is the highest number since CNN started asking this question four years ago.

According to the poll, 37 percent want to see all illegal immigrants deported, also the highest number since the questions was first asked in 2006, and another 23 percent say that the number of illegal immigrants in the country should be decreased significantly.

Posted by: zeezil | March 30, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Rasmussen Reports: 67% Say Illegal Immigrants Are Major Strain on U.S. Budget

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

As the country wrestles with a future of historic-level deficits, 67% of U.S. voters say that illegal immigrants are a significant strain on the U.S. budget.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 23% disagree and do not believe illegal immigration is a strain on the budget.

Two-out-of-three (66%) voters say the availability of government money and services draw illegal immigrants to the United States. Nineteen percent (19%) think otherwise and do not believe government money and services are a magnet for illegal immigration. Another 15% are not sure.

These findings help to explain why 68% say gaining control of the border is more important than legalizing the status of undocumented workers already living in the United States. Twenty-six percent (26%) think legalizing illegal immigrants is more important.

Posted by: zeezil | March 30, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Poll: 78% of Americans Oppose Obama's Immigration Plans

http://www.alipac.us/article4517.html

Posted by: zeezil | March 30, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

85% Say Govt Services Should Go Only To Those Here Legally

http://oneoldvet.com/?p=7949

Posted by: zeezil | March 30, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Kevin, I don't think your initial response to Jade clearly conveys a claim of overbreadth in Jade's use of the term "nativist". And, perhaps it was the tone and level of attitude that made your use of the term sound like an insult, whereas Jade was pointing out some specific examples associated with the Tea Party and conservatives that do suggest actual elements of nativism. (Did you listen to Tancredo's opening speech at the Tea Party's convention, for example? And the cheers it received from the crowd? Or certainly you have seen the signs challenging Obama's citizenship, as well as the signs that portray him as an African witch doctor? While those sentiments are certainly not held by all Tea Partiers, nor all conservatives, the fact that neither has disavowed such statements does, like it or not, taint the movement or philosophy. I keep waiting for someone in either group to step forward, and, like Buckley did for conservatism in the 60's, state that fringe elements like birthers and others are not welcome in either the Tea Party or among conservatives, but no one has done that.)

As for claims that "taking your country back" is just a form of political rhetoric used by both parties, I do not remember it being a part of the last President campaign (and I live in Iowa, where the campaign started years before the rest of the country). Even if it was, its use by Democrats in that context would have carried a very different conotation. Not because Democrats nor liberals can never be guilty of nativism or racism, but because the issues of nativism were not relevant to Bush or his brand of conservatism: no one ever challenged his citizenship or portrayed him as an outsider to native culture. (No one really did that with McCain either, even though he was born on a military base in Panama.) A Democrat who might have said something about taking back the country could not reasonably be construed to even suggest that Bush was an outsider because he was not an American, because the issue just wasn't there.

Note again that, in spite of your comments to msoja, no one is assuming every individual who claims to be a Tea Partier or conservative holds such views. But if those movements/philosophies want to claim more legitimacy among Americans as a whole, they need to draw a bright line between themselves and the fringes. Until then, pointing out specific speakers within the group that espouse nativist themes is a valid point for discussion.

Posted by: reach4astar2 | March 30, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

"They only do that because the federal government has its boot on the neck of every employer in the country, forcing them to do its dirty work."

What a rugged, manly man you are.

(Why is it that only white losers stay Rand devotees into adulthood.)

Posted by: pseudonymousinnc | March 30, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

@reach4astar2: "Or certainly you have seen the signs challenging Obama's citizenship, as well as the signs that portray him as an African witch doctor?"

These are not the same things as saying constitutional rights are being trampled. Or even that we need to "take our country back". You want to argue that those outliers nativists, then that's a reasonable argument. I don't know that the birthers are nativists so much as they are paranoid conspiracy theorists, but, fine. Those folks are nativists. Some people are. Not everybody who supports Republicans, conservatives, or the tea party movement is a nativist, and perhaps not even the majority. There are clearly more important issues to most of those people.


"Until then, pointing out specific speakers within the group that espouse nativist themes is a valid point for discussion."

And I was discussing it. There is a vast difference between suggesting that "take our country back" (i.e., let's win the next election) is "nativist" and suggesting the birthers and folks with Obama was a witch doctor are nativists.

When it comes down to it, Obama could a white southerner advancing the same agenda, and he'd still get 99.9% of the same opposition (maybe even the witch doctor signs: you know, healthcare and stuff) because most of these people either object to policy, what they think is policy, or on general ideology or partisan grounds.

And Howard Dean was the big "let's take our country back" guy. It was more of a 2004 thing. When you get old, the election cycles run together.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | March 30, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

undocumented immigrants? Where did they leave their documents? In their country? It is interesting how the language evolves to sometimes ridiculous extent. Since when illegal alien sounds offensive? I was a "legal alien" written on my green card till became a citizen. To answer the question what makes me a citizen of this country, I may answer. I came here legally, have been working legally, have learned English, studied the constitution, respect the law, pay taxes, raise my children to be Americans, not hyphenated ......./Americans, my loyalty, my heart and soul is here, not in my old country. The process of becoming a citizen takes time. I care about my country, take offense when hear someone speaks ill about her, esp. a foreigner. Please, do not cheapen the citizenship. It doesn't matter now how the United States obtained her territories. This way, we can question the map of Europe, Lithuania and Ukraine can be claimed by Poland, Parts of France by Germany, Belgium by France and Holland, etc. And where it would lead? The borders have been established by wars and treaties. Let's not go back to the beginning of the humanity, but try to resolve problems rooted in our times.

Posted by: wggodek | March 30, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Ezra is right. Suffices to google "immigration reform" to find tons of articles on the need for immigration reform now. There are surprisingly few articles opposing legalization of the illegal immigrants.
Interestingly enough, few Republicans have spoken out against immigration reform recently. Moreover, there are currently at least ten Republican US senators who either voted for immigration reform in 2007, or who have otherwise indicated that they favor a path to legalization for the illegal immigrants.
What is lacking is leadership from Obama. The votes are there!

Posted by: mehuwss | March 30, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse

---(Why is it that only white losers stay Rand devotees into adulthood.)---

Pseudo plays the race card and brands "losers" those who aren't willing to steal from their neighbors to pay for their sundry needs and druthers.

Tell me what you think of this, pseudo:

"You can't vote against health care and call yourself a black man." -- Jesse Jackson

Who's the freaking racist?

Posted by: msoja | March 30, 2010 9:16 PM | Report abuse

---What a rugged, manly man you are.---

Says pseudo as he runs behind the skirts of his nanny state.

Posted by: msoja | March 30, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Many if not most of the illegals in the USA have come to work, not to obtain "freebies" as many of you complain about. I worked 4 yrs for the SSA and 4 yrs with the IRS and speak from experience when I say this. First and foremost, most if not all illegals pay taxes, yes even FICA taxes that most of them NEVER collect on i.e. SSA retirement, SSA survivors benefits and SSA death benefits. This is because their FICA taxes are credited to a bogus SSN or someone else's SSN account resulting in what we call a "scrambled earnings" case. Also, survivors of deceased illegals fail to file for survivors benefits because they are not aware of their eligibility and in many cases do not have the paperwork to piece together the FICA taxes paid by the wage-earner. In many cases, we found illegals injured on the job left the country without knowing about or filing for SSA disability benefits. Needless to say, illegals have contributed more to our revenues than they have taken out and have done so without complaining about it like Americans.

Get back to us when you start receiving mail & phone calls about your late payments on a credit account opened in a state you've never been,and let us know how difficult you life is after your disability or Social Security is cut off due to the wages you're earning in a job you've never worked-all courtesy of an illegal using your SS#

Posted by: VirchowsHarlot | March 31, 2010 6:42 AM | Report abuse

Every time a Teabagger screams about wanting "their" country back, or talks about a certain person (or persons) not being "American" enough (or at all), that's nativism. When they are complaining about "people trampling their Constitutional rights" or what the (all white male) "Founding Fathers" would want or would do, that's nativism.

Make certain you work that homophobic slur in your rant....follow the script!

Posted by: VirchowsHarlot | March 31, 2010 6:46 AM | Report abuse

Using the word "Nativist" as a pejorative to try to put those who support enforcement of our immigration law on the defensive is just a ruse to take everyone's minds off the real problem of Illegal Immigration. Per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Unemployment Report of March 5, 2010:

Construction and extraction occupations = 26.5% Unemployment
Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations = 22.7% Unemployment
Production occupations = 15.4% Unemployment
Transportation, material moving occupations = 15.0% Unemployment
Service occupations = 10.7% Unemployment

Total US Unemployed Citizens and Legal Residents = 14,871,000
This figure excludes 6,170,000 Persons who want a job but are not included for various reasons.
Total Number of Americans Looking for Work = 21,041,000

But before seasonal adjustment Americans looking for work = 22,077,000

The most recent Pew Center estimates of Working Illegal Immigrants indicate that there are 7.5 million working Illegal Immigrants in the USA. Pew Center data also shows most of them work in agriculture, office and house cleaning, construction, and food preparation. Only in Agriculture with the highest percent of working Illegal Immigrants at 25%, is the unemployed rate for Americans lower.

Meanwhile Management, professional, and related occupations = 4.8% Unemployment

It is plainly evident from easily available statistics the those Americans who work in the lower end of the pay spectrum pay the highest price due to an Illegal Immigration driven oversupply of workers. And the price is unemployment. Free labor markets do not work when a huge global supply of under employed and unemployed labor meets the limited supply of US jobs. But I guess those who support Illegal Immigration would rather obfuscate the obvious by calling those who want our laws enforced various pejoratives.

Posted by: Norski | March 31, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

It's urgent to understand that fixing the broken immigration system is important both for the economy and for the security of this country. We need workable solutions that unite us together - and reform that respects due process and fairness allows us to celebrate the values that we hold dear - fairness, opportunity and due process. When we deny due process to some people, ultimately it will affect all of us. To take action go to www.restorefairness.org.

Posted by: RestoreFairness | April 2, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

It's urgent to understand that fixing the broken immigration system is important both for the economy and for the security of this country.
---
There is nothing "broken" about our immigration system. The only thing that is "broken" about it is that the American people were cheated out of the border security and enforcement we were promised in 1986.

Immigration systems are for the natives of the country, NOT for the sake of the immigrants. We do not need to be "fair," we need to do what is right for our country and for the people who already here.

Giving the La Raza crowd everything they want on a silver platter will NOT fix the economy or improve our security -- it will make them both much, much worse.

Posted by: MaryJessel | April 3, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company