Stanley Renshon's blog

The Bedrock of Ordinary Americans' Immigration Views: Future Immigration Levels, Pt. 2

By Stanley Renshon, August 22, 2014

Americans have consistently said that they want immigration levels to "remain the same" or be decreased. Many so-called immigration "reformers" have simply ignored them.

As a result, one of the most egregious elements of the Senate's 2013 bill was that it would have enormously increased the number of legal immigrants allowed into the United States. Just how many new legal immigrants would have been allowed in is a matter of debate, but by any fair look, the numbers would be substantial — at least double and most likely more. Read more...

The Bedrock of Ordinary Americans' Immigration View: Future Immigration Levels

By Stanley Renshon, August 20, 2014

In the last few entries, we have been exploring the fact that ordinary Americans hold basic, bedrock views on several subjects that that are cornerstones of the immigration debate – their views on the impact of large-scale immigration, as reflected in the numbers of the foreign-born in the population, and their views on illegal immigration.

The vehicle of our examination has been a large, sophisticated immigration survey, with an experiment design component embedded within it (for the experimental parts, different groups within the larger sample are given different question and the results compared), conducted by two very reputable political scientists. Read more...

The Bedrock of Ordinary Americans' Immigration Views: How Many is Too Much?

By Stanley Renshon, August 19, 2014

Researchers asking if providing "accurate" information about the percentage of foreign-born persons and illegal immigrants in the population of the United States would lead survey respondents to feel less of a "threat" from, and be more welcoming to, ethnic "others" (immigrants), were surprised to find accurate numbers (i.e., the estimates that researchers provided) didn't make much difference (p. 15). Americans were not happy with the figures, even when they were given the "correct" (i.e. estimated) numbers.

The researchers wondered why and speculated as follows (p. 15): Read more...

The Bedrock of Ordinary Americans' Immigration Views

By Stanley Renshon, August 15, 2014

Americans do have some bedrock views on immigration, but how legitimate are they given the lack of specific information that ordinarily accompanies them?

The criticism of ordinary Americans' lack of specific information about immigration and other public matters often masks a conceit and several false premises. It also provides an opening to manipulate the public that many advocates and pundits feel no qualms about taking advantage of if it suits their policy preferences, for example by arguing that legalizing illegal immigrants will require them to pay their back taxes when that is patently untrue and misleading. Read more...

Illegal Migrants: A Silent Invasion No More, Pt. 2

By Stanley Renshon, August 14, 2014

The hidden tsunami of new immigrants, both legal and illegal, have been operating under the public's attention radar for many decades. In part this reflects the fact that immigration is not, ordinarily, a high-attention issue for most Americans. As a result, ordinary Americans don't have a great deal of factual information about the substantive foundations of the many complex elements that make up immigration policy. Read more...

Illegal Migrants: A Silent Invasion No More

By Stanley Renshon, August 7, 2014

According to Gallup, immigration has ranked near the bottom of Americans' concerns for many years. No more.

In 1994, the number of Americans who said immigration was "America's biggest problem" reached a highpoint of 2 percent. In 1996, the highpoint was 6 percent. In 1997, it was 4 percent. In 1998, it was 2 percent. In 1999 it was 1 percent. In 2000 it was 2 percent, and in 2001 it was 3 percent.

Fast forward to now, the summer of 2014 and Gallup reports, "With thousands of undocumented immigrant minors crossing the nation's southern border in recent months, the percentage of Americans citing immigration as the top problem has surged to 17 percent this month, up from 5 percent in June, and the highest seen since 2006." Read more...

Territorial Integrity, the Rule of Law, and Immigration Enforcement

By Stanley Renshon, July 30, 2014

Americans are accustomed to taking the territorial integrity of their country for granted. They do not sit directly astride a former empire that wants to regain its former glory and territory. The United States is not surrounded by countries that wish to destroy us. Nor are our territorial boundaries subject to international dispute, debate, or forceful efforts to change them. Read more...

Three Core Presidential Responsibilities: Territorial, Cultural, and Governing Integrity

By Stanley Renshon, July 29, 2014

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion.

— United States Constitution, Article 4, Section 4

In the push to respond to the substantial pressures of public expectations and, in some cases, their own enormous ambitions, some presidents have lost sight of three of their core responsibilities: the integrity of the country's established boundaries, the integrity of the cultural premises on which the country was founded and developed, and the responsibility of governing integrity that comes with the grant of public and political power. Read more...

The President's Dereliction of His Basic Governing Responsibilities

By Stanley Renshon, July 28, 2014

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation: — "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

— United States Constitution, Article 2, Section 1, Clause 8 Read more...

The Border Surge Is Much More than a Humanitarian Issue

By Stanley Renshon, July 22, 2014

The president's framing of the unprecedented surge of illegal aliens turning themselves into border officials in the expectation of being allowed to stay in the United States, as an "urgent humanitarian situation", is only partially correct. The phase is designed to misdirect public attention away from the more damming truths of the surge; it is equally, if not more so, a crisis of enforcement, governing, and the president's responsibility carry out his oath of office. It is an ethical issue for the public as well as the president.

None of these considerations are captured or even suggested by the administration's preferred phasing. Nor are they meant to do so. Read more...

The Damaging Civic Consequences of Illegal Migration, Pt. 4: Rhetorical Slights of Hand

By Stanley Renshon, July 18, 2014

American politics, and immigration debates are certainly no exception, has become riddled with "narratives", "framing", and "optics" designed to convey an impression that doesn't really exist — at least in the way it is presented.

A narrative is the construction of a set of "facts", specifically designed to advance the interests of those who construct it. Or as a Democratic political operative put it recently to journalist Ron Fournier of the National Journal, "Every political cause has a narrative. And every narrative has a plot." Read more...

The Damaging Civic Consequences of Illegal Migration, Pt. 3: Sowing Deliberate Euphemistic Confusion

By Stanley Renshon, July 16, 2014

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

       — Attributed to Sigmund Freud

Language is the key to human insight, but also a key culprit in undermining it. Read more...

The Damaging Civic Consequences of Illegal Migration, Pt. 2: The 'Better Lives' Argument

By Stanley Renshon, July 15, 2014

The essential core of real immigration reform is enforcement.

That is not because of some harsh "anti-immigrant" sentiment. Rather, it is because real enforcement is very pro-immigration. Why? Because the wholesale violation of immigration laws and procedures and the failure of federal, state, and local authorities to be consistent in their efforts to enforce the law undermine public support for immigration. Read more...

The Damaging Civic Consequences of Illegal Migration, Pt. 1

By Stanley Renshon, July 14, 2014

Illegal migration is at the core of America's immigration problems. And it is likely to become an even more divisive issue as the surge of Central American children, adolescents, and women continue to turn themselves in at the border and are dispersed throughout the United States without much fear of being sent back to their home countries. Read more...

The Myth of Political Cost-Free Immigration, Pt. 3

By Stanley Renshon, July 11, 2014

One of the reasons that the American immigration system needs reform so badly is that it has been changed part-by-part over time without great attention to its overall design or consequences. And when the obvious unintended problems crop up, or the intended fixes worsen other problems, calls are heard for "comprehensive reform" that attempts to fix every problem by giving more of what every connected group favors. Such was the rationale of the failed 2007 "comprehensive reform" and the stalled and almost certainly dead 2013 Senate bill. Read more...

The Myth of Political Cost-Free Immigration, Pt. 2

By Stanley Renshon, July 9, 2014

America has always placed a large bet on immigration. It is clear that immigrants migrate to the United States for freedom and opportunity and in doing so they pursue their self-interest.

The bet we have placed, largely successfully in the past, is that we could leverage that self-interest into genuine attachment over time. That meant that they would not only work to improve their educational and economic circumstances, but would develop a real emotional attachment and identification with the their new home. In short, the bet was that immigrants would become, over time, Americans. Read more...

The Myth of Political Cost-Free Immigration, Pt. 1

By Stanley Renshon, July 8, 2014

The myth of economic cost-free immigration has its political counterpart.

It is the view that massively increasing immigration by tens of millions of new legal immigrants, as proposed in the Senate bill and by its advocates, is simply and unequivocally positive for the United States, its culture, and democracy. To assume or suggest anything less is to immediately open yourself to the charge that you are "anti-immigrant" or worse. Read more...

The Myth of Economic Cost-Free Immigration, Pt. 2

By Stanley Renshon, July 7, 2014

The hope that more and more immigration will solve America's economic problems is doomed to disappoint those who tout it and those who believe that is possible. It may add dollars to our GNP, but it comes with substantial costs, both economic and political.

It is simply untrue that there are enormous numbers of Steve Jobs out there waiting to get their green cards. Jobs was quite unique in many ways. Read more...

The Myth of Economic Cost-Free Immigration, Pt. 1

By Stanley Renshon, July 4, 2014

A lie is usually defined as a willful misrepresentation made with the intent to deceive. Read more...

Avoiding GOP Immigration Reform Self-Sabotage, Pt. 9: The Lure of $$$

By Stanley Renshon, June 30, 2014

If there's one thing that Democrats, Beltway Republicans, and their supporters agree on it is that immigration is good for America's bottom line.

Larry Kudlow makes that case in National Review as follows: "The dynamic idea is that immigration significantly increases the size of the U.S. labor force, and that more workers mean more growth." Read more...

Avoiding GOP Immigration Reform Self-Sabotage, Pt. 8: The Gateway Issue Redux

By Stanley Renshon, June 10, 2014

There may be some truth to Jeb Bush's view that immigration is a "gateway issue for Hispanics". He is quoted as saying, "If you can get past that, then you have to make a case on a broader set of issues." This point was seconded in a Sunday news show appearance by Matthew Dowd, chief strategist for the Bush-Cheney 2004 presidential campaign, "The problem for Republicans is that immigration reform is a gateway issue and basically says you have to do something about that in order for those voters to listen to you on all those other issues."

The question is: What is that "something" you "have to do"? Read more...

Avoiding GOP Immigration Reform Self-Sabotage, Pt. 7: The Gateway Issue

By Stanley Renshon, June 3, 2014

Even those Republicans interested in real immigration reform who are not panicked by wild, non-contextualized Democratic analysis face a difficult question: What difference will it make to Republican attempts to woo Hispanics?

Answers range from not much to possibly some.

This is the so-called "gateway" question and it asks: Can the GOP successfully get Hispanics to listen to, and support, their policy pitches if they don't first pass immigration legislation? Read more...

Avoiding GOP Immigration Reform Self-Sabotage, Pt. 6: Fellow Republicans

By Stanley Renshon, June 2, 2014

Of all the groups and ideas that are most dangerous to real immigration reform, there is none in a better position to do terrible damage than Republicans themselves. And among Republicans there are no groups or leaders more poised at the precipice of a historic mistake than those who are panicked by demographic projections or those who want some concrete marker to demonstrate their policy empathy with Hispanics by signing on to the massive changes in immigration numbers and procedures contained in the Democratic Party's legislation. Read more...

Avoiding GOP Immigration Reform Self-Sabotage, Pt. 5: High-Tech Visas

By Stanley Renshon, May 28, 2014

It is doubtlessly naïve to expect, or get, some degree of basic substantive honesty in the immigration debate from those whose who are wholly taken up with their organization or group's self interest. Still, it would be refreshing if groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at least acknowledged that their circumstances really are not as dire as their rhetoric. Read more...

Avoiding GOP Immigration Reform Self-Sabotage, Pt. 4: The Chamber of Commerce

By Stanley Renshon, May 27, 2014

It's hard to think of a more important member of the Republican establishment than the Chamber of Commerce. The very name conjures up Republican cultural values and economic goals — business, the free enterprise system, industriousness, delay of gratification, risk taking, resilience — even profit and economic mobility. Read more...

Avoiding GOP Immigration Reform Self-Sabotage, Pt. 3: "Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform"

By Stanley Renshon, May 23, 2014

The Republican establishment, as it might be called, consists of its "professional class" — past and present political office holders, consultants, pundits, heads of various Republican constituency groups, and associated think tanks and personnel. Collectively, they might be considered the Republican Washington establishment (even if not all its members are physically in the capital). They are, generally, in favor of immigration reform, and have endorsed Republican support for the 2013 Senate Democratic bill, some vociferously. Read more...

Avoiding GOP Immigration Self-Sabotage, Pt. 2: Tea Party vs. Establishment

By Stanley Renshon, May 21, 2014

One of the most basic forms of self-sabotage is unnecessary warfare among parties that essentially agree with each other. However, another form of self-sabotage is denying that important differences exist among like-minded parties and not clarifying them so the differences can receive a fair hearing. Read more...

Avoiding GOP Immigration Reform Self-Sabotage, Pt. 1: The Primaries Trap!

By Stanley Renshon, May 20, 2014

Rushing to pass a Republican immigration bill in the House before August makes no policy or political sense for a number of reasons. There is little time left to reach agreement among Republicans. The congressional elections are only four months away and Republicans will be a much better position to pass real immigration reform should they win majorities in both the House and the Senate. And even if they fail to win the Senate, delaying an immigration bill until after the new House convenes in January 2015 means that the 2013 Senate Democratic bill is essentially dead and is very unlikely to be revived in its present form. Read more...

A Republican Immigration Reform Bill: The Politics of Timing, Pt. 2

By Stanley Renshon, May 19, 2014

Republicans have three basic choices regarding an immigration reform bill; they can support the Democrat's Senate (and House) bill, do nothing, or forge their own.

The most obvious best choice for Republicans is to write their own bill. But when?

The choices are these: Read more...

A Republican Immigration Reform Bill: The Politics of Timing, Pt. 1

By Stanley Renshon, May 16, 2014

If Republicans gain control of the Senate, they will have a great many important agenda items to consider, and not much time to do something about them. The 114th Congress, elected in November 2014 will officially be in session from January 3, 2015, to January 3, 2017. Read more...