On yesterday’s NPR Morning Edition, reporter Jennifer Ludden took a few moments to turn conventional wisdom on immigration on its head:
In recent years, political advice on immigration in both parties has gone something like this: “It’s the third rail of politics.” “The less said, the better.” “If you say anything, talk tough.”
She cut to America’s Voice Executive Director Frank Sharry:
“What the election showed is that the conventional wisdom on why immigration reform is too hot to handle is wrong…”
(Watch out: conventional-wisdom-shattering may be addictive).
Just take a look at the numbers we’ve been predicting for months now:
More Hispanics than ever voted, and they voted 2-to-1 for Obama over McCain. Sharry says Latino support was decisive in helping deliver the swing states of Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Florida. And polls show it was the immigration issue – specifically some in the Republican Party who demonized illegal immigrants – that helped drive Latinos to the Democrats.
Even in states line Virginia and Indiana, not traditional Latino states, Latino voters helped to turn those states blue.
“The large, vocal anti-immigrant vote that has hijacked the Republican Party – they have a lot of bark but not a lot of bite,” Sharry says. “They couldn’t turn elections.”
Where’s the proof?
During the election, Immigration08.com tracked close races where immigration was an issue. Well, nineteen pro-reform candidates beat enforcement-only candidates in twenty-one battleground house and senate races across the country. The latest report, The GOP: Fenced in by Immigration, details how the immigration issue became a big fat loser for the Republican Party.
Ludden went on to analyze how the economic downturn could affect prospects of passing immigration reform, speculating that there may be fewer low-skilled jobs created- but countered with comments from Craig Regelbrugge of the American Landscape and Nursery Association:
Still, even if there’s no support for bringing in new workers, Regelbrugge sees an argument for legalizing agricultural workers already in the United States. Seventy percent of them are believed to be undocumented, and he says these jobs do not disappear in a bad economy. Regelbrugge says efforts to find Americans to take agriculture jobs have failed, but each immigrant worker supports three to four other U.S. workers.
“So to the extent that Freida the fertilizer salesperson or Chuck the cheese factory worker are worried about their own well-being, so too they should be worried about Miguel the milker and Pepe the peach picker,” he says. “Their jobs are here together, and if the production moves, the American jobs move, too.”
In other words, if ‘Pepe’ gets booted out, Joe’s ‘plumbing’ business heads South of the border, too (or across the ocean, as the case may be).
The latest polling shows that, even with a deflated economy, voters are more likely to support immigration reforms that move undocumented workers out of the shadows and onto the tax rolls. Common sense solutions that aid the economy and fix our deeply dysfunctional immigration system are a win-win.