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The Persistent anti-immigrant sentiment in the Republican Party

Photo by Melany Rochester on Unsplash

Tucked into a new statewide poll by the Public Policy Institute of California is a question on the views on the impact of immigrants on California: Are they a benefit or a burden?

Unsurprisingly, the majority of Californians see immigrants as a benefit to society: 71 percent, in fact. While that number has dipped slightly since a high of 76 percent two years ago, the number has continued to increase over the years, corresponding with an increase in the non-white population.

What hasn’t increased is the perception of immigrants among Republicans, which was at a disappointing, but not surprising, low of just 31 percent who see immigrants as a benefit. 31 percent. And this isn’t about legal or illegal — the question just asks about immigrants.

For those who have assumed this number had grown worse since the rise of Trump — it hasn’t. In fact, it hasn’t even changed in a decade, since Barack Obama was elected to a second term.

What has changed, though, is how independents and Democrats view immigrants: as a benefit. These groups have always seen immigrants as a benefit, but the number continues to rise. This could be either a function of an increasingly diverse society and the growing comfort with the societal changes that accompany it, or it could be a result of anti-Trump ‘resistance’ where residents of California increasingly take positions at odds with Donald Trump because, well…he’s Donald Trump.

In December of 2007, 65 percent of Democrats saw immigrants as a benefit, as did 58 percent of independents. In the latest PPIC survey, the numbers rose significantly: 88 percent of Democrats and 65 percent of independents.

As for Republicans, that stubborn group of voters ever resisting change: 57 percent saw immigrants as a burden in 2007, and that is exactly how it is today as well.

Since at least the 1980’s. It has been often said that Latinos, the largest ethnic group in the state and by far the largest group of California immigrants, are Republicans who just don’t know it yet. The thinking is that Republicans just need to do a better job of TELLING them that.

But here’s the thing: Latinos are, of course, a hard-working, value-based people, that lean conservative culturally. But why would Latinos, or any attacked group, choose to align with a party that sees them as a burden? They don’t, and Latinos routinely tell Republicans that when they register to vote and show up at the polls. Perhaps Republicans should do the listening, but it’s likely far too late.

The California Republican Party is overwhelmingly white — nearly 80% of registered GOP’ers are non-Hispanic white. But as the most recent data shows, the views of these same Republicans steadfastly refuse to change, choosing extinction over evolution.

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