People come to America because it is a remarkable oasis of freedom, prosperity, and opportunity. Conservatives recognize that the principal reason for our unique abundance is our constitutional restraint on the power of government. As Thomas Jefferson said, “In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”
Maintaining this system requires the public to support limited government. In a new report, Eagle Forum details how immigration is fundamentally changing the electorate to one that is much more supportive of big government.
There is nothing controversial about the report’s conclusion that both Hispanics and Asians, who account for about three-fourth of today’s immigrants, generally agree with the Democrats’ big-government agenda. It is for this reason that they vote two-to-one for Democrats.
The 2008 National Annenberg Election Survey found that 62 percent of immigrants prefer a single, government-run health-care system. The 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Study found that 69 percent of immigrants support Obamacare. Pew also found that 53 percent of Hispanics have a negative view of capitalism, the highest of any group surveyed. This is even higher than the 47 percent among self-identified supporters of Occupy Wall Street.
The Pew Research Center has also found that 75 percent of Hispanics prefer a “bigger government providing more services,” and only 19 percent prefer a smaller government. Pew also reported that 55 percent of Asians prefer “bigger government providing more services,” and only 36 percent prefer a smaller government. So it’s no surprise that in 2012, 71 percent of Hispanics and 73 percent of Asians voted for Obama.
Even Republican emphasis on patriotism and national sovereignty is likely to alienate many immigrants. A Harris poll found that 81 percent of native-born Americans believe our schools should teach students to be proud of being American, compared with only 50 percent of immigrants who had become naturalized U.S. citizens. Only 37 percent of naturalized citizens (compared with 67 percent of native-born citizens) think our Constitution is a higher legal authority than international law.
While it seems that much of the Republican-party leadership has not actually looked at the policy preferences of immigrants, everyone else who has looked at the polls comes to the conclusion that significant majorities of immigrants and their children are big-government liberals. The New York Times’ Washington bureau chief admitted last year that “the two fastest-growing ethnic groups — Latinos and Asian-Americans — are decidedly liberal.” As University of Alabama political scientist George Hawley observes, “Immigrants are well to the left of the American public on a number of key issues.” He also makes clear that “liberalizing immigration will liberalize the U.S.” Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute points out that it “is not immigration policy that creates the strong bond between Hispanics and the Democratic party, but the core Democratic principles of a more generous safety net, strong government intervention in the economy, and progressive taxation.”
Immigration in general — not race — is the issue. The limited data for other immigrants — including Europeans and Muslims — indicate that they, too, generally hold views well to the left of the average American voter. In fact, as discussed in our new report, for reasons largely outside the control of conservatives, immigrants and their children gravitate to left-wing parties in almost all Western countries. The problem for conservatives is not race or ethnicity but immigration as such.