Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Tag Archives: Latinos

Resisting Immigration Reform

Identity politics rejects ending illegal immigration and reforming legal immigration.

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online 

We are fast approaching what promises to be the year of “comprehensive immigration reform.” In the manner of the “Affordable Care Act,” it will not be comprehensive nor will it reform U.S._Border_Patrol_Badgeimmigration.

All sorts of new trends have emerged in the American Southwest to address the fact that federal immigration law does not really apply to those who arrived here illegally from Mexico or Latin America. In-state tuition discounts at public universities are now customarily extended to those without citizenship — in effect, privileging the foreign national over the U.S.-citizen student from out of state who helps subsidize the cost. Cities establish sanctuary zones that protect illegal immigrants from the enforcement of federal immigration laws — and the taxpayer picks up the additional tab in social services. Imagine what might happen should a city declare in similar fashion that it was exempt from enforcing federal gun-control laws.

Another trend is the effort to end penalties for past use of multiple Social Security numbers. Many who crossed the border illegally adopted various — and thus fraudulent — identities and acquired numerous Social Security numbers. When they later obtained green cards or citizenship, their poly-personas were found out. But isn’t it discriminatory to count such illegal behavior against the job applicant, if such criteria apply disproportionately to a particular ethnic group?

In other words, there is an effort to make the idea of immigration law per se mostly irrelevant, and instead to focus only on the immigrant in terms of his ethnic makeup and place of origin. Read more →

Illegal Immigration: Who Benefits?

Why does the well-off California suburbanite stand shoulder to shoulder with La Raza?

by Victor Davis Hanson

National Review Online

Why are over 11 million foreign nationals residing illegally in the United States? Read more →

The Tangled Web of Race

by Victor Davis Hanson

National Review Online

A number of commentators have openly sympathized with multi-murderer Christopher Dorner, who shot seven innocent people, killing four of them. Apparently, the late Dorner was a voice in the wilderness crying out against the racist injustice of the “system.” Read more →

Incoherent Immigration Reform

by Victor Davis Hanson

Tribune Media Services

Nothing about illegal immigration quite adds up. Read more →

Winning the Latino Vote

by Victor Davis Hanson

National Review Online

Over the last three weeks, I think I have read most of the post-election op-eds written on the Latino vote. I have studied exit polling, read sophisticated demographic analyses, and talked to as many Latinos in my hometown as I could. The result is that I would not advise Republicans to go down the identity-politics route. Read more →

Learning from the Election

by Victor Davis Hanson

PJ Media

1. Populism

The Republicans have only won the popular vote since Ronald Reagan’s presidency on two occasions: 1988 and 2004. In both instances, even the patrician Bushes were able to paint their liberal opponents as out-of-touch Massachusetts magnificoes. Lee Atwater turned Michael Dukakis, the helmeted tank driver, into a bumbling Harvard Square naïf. Karl Rove reminded the country that John Kerry, the wind surfer, was a spandex-wearing, wetsuit-outfitted yuppie who lived in several of his rich wife’s mansions, as he jetted around in her plane and sailed on her boat. Read more →

The Latino-Vote Obsession

by Victor Davis Hanson

National Review Online

Postelection panic among conservatives about the Latino vote has reached the point of absurdity — and mostly reveals the naïveté of detached political grandees who know little about the ideology and motivations of those they are now supposed to adroitly woo.

Republican postmortems have focused heavily on the Latino vote. According to exit polls, it went 70 percent for Barack Obama, and this year it might have accounted for 10 percent or so of the electorate. Presumably, this margin was an important, and in some exegeses the decisive, factor that denied Mitt Romney the presidency. Given demographic reality, then, the Republican party must in response be more inclusive, curb its illiberal and gratuitous rhetoric, and seek a “grand bargain” on illegal immigration, which will welcome Latinos into the party, and thereby result in a new 21st-century inclusive majority that will win presidential elections.

Yet, aside from the always-sound advice to be civil, show empathy for the less well off, and avoid callous rhetoric, almost all such thinking is overly simplistic, if not flawed altogether.

In the first place, why do Republicans think their conservative message is a natural one for the majority of contemporary Latinos/Hispanics — rubrics that strangely now include everyone from Cubans and upscale Argentinians to Oaxacan indigenous peoples and Hondurans? In truth, the vast majority of Latinos who vote overwhelmingly Democratic is made up of poorer immigrants from Central America and Mexico rather than Marco Rubio-like second-generation Cuban-Americans. De facto amnesty, generous entitlements, vast increases in public expenditures and hiring, and more taxes on the wealthy are understandably widely supported by both the Latino leadership and rank-and-file. Public employment is increasingly more attractive and more subject to affirmative action than the private sector, and, quite logically, its expansion is seen by poorer Latinos as a natural pathway into the middle class.

Had Republicans come out in favor of open borders and blanket amnesty, I doubt that they would have won the Latino vote — much less done much better in a state like California, given that its latest round of steep tax increases (now over 13 percent on top incomes) was widely supported by the so-called Latino community. Pundits can rail about supposedly naïve, out-of-touch Republicans who talked of self-deportation and thereby lost the Latino vote; but one just as easily might have castigated them for decrying out-of-control entitlements and food stamps, predicating legal immigration on education and skills, or criticizing unworkable and discriminatory affirmative-action policies, since these positions are also politicized as anti-Latino dog whistles.

Second, the “grand bargain” on comprehensive immigration reform envisions ending illegal immigration but granting amnesty to, at least, those who were brought here as children and are still under 25, in school or in the military, and without a criminal record. But why do Republicans think Latinos are in any significant way opposed to continuing illegal immigration? For the last 40 years, the influx of millions of illegal aliens leaving the impoverishment of Mexico by simply crossing the border, without much worry about US law, has been a win/win situation for those already here. An expectation of cyclical amnesty or a general unwillingness of Americans to enforce their own laws is a magnet for millions in Latin America. In the surreal world of American liberal orthodoxy, the nanosecond a young Mexican national crosses the border, he becomes immediately eligible for affirmative action — despite having little history of victimization by the United States or claim of contemporary bias. In some 21 years of teaching at CSU Fresno I weekly mentored young illegal immigrants who were on federal and state scholarships, were recipients of the in-state tuition discount, and were courted by professional schools by virtue of being minority members with supposed historical claims against the majority. Given the disparity between life in Mexico and life in the United States, why would a voting bloc give up such advantages — especially given that the larger the pool of unassimilated illegal immigrants, the greater the avenue for second- and third-generation Mexican-Americans to offer them collective representation and advance their own careers in government, media, and academia on the basis of collective ethnic grievances?

Imagine, for a minute, that the Republican leadership did attempt to negotiate the “grand bargain,” a platitude as constantly voiced as it is never defined. If Republicans were willing to grant Dream Act–like amnesty, what exactly would they ask for in exchange? The completion of the border fence? Employer fines? E-Verify? Deportation of millions of “unDream” illegal immigrants who do not meet the above criteria?

For all practical purposes, “comprehensive reform” means granting amnesty but also leaving the border fence uncompleted, having a guest-worker program, and issuing green cards to millions of illegal residents. If we were to deport the tens of thousands of Mexican nationals in our prisons, or the hundreds of thousands on some form of public assistance, does anyone believe that would win over the Latino leadership? The Reagan-era (1986) Simpson-Mazzoli Act (which required employers to verify immigration status, and which also amnestied about 3 million illegals) led to greater influxes from Mexico, did not stop calls for more amnesties, and certainly did not swell Latino support for Republicans.

Among most Mexican-Americans that I know there may have been just as much outrage at Romney for advocating legal immigration based on skills and education rather than family ties, as there was furor for his talk of “self-deportation.” Is it not hurtful (and seen as racist) to prefer that someone immigrate from Slovakia with an engineering degree and some capital rather than from Oaxaca with no money and without a high-school diploma? Under the present system, a Mexican national who is an unskilled worker can massage citizenship far more easily by virtue of ethnic clout and kindred ties to a Mexican-American than can a South Korean dentist or Greek doctor or Hungarian capitalist. Why would Mexican-Americans not favor such a system, and why would they not resent Republicans who advocated legal immigration based on higher education and specialized skills? Are the new Republican centrists to win the Latino vote by avoiding talk about basing legal immigration largely on criteria other than ethnic and family affiliations?

There are other, rarely spoken, reasons for Latinos to prefer Obama that have little to do with Republican positions on border enforcement. One is a sort of minority solidarity, in which the president, by virtue of his liberal and African-American profile, is seen as somehow more sensitive to other minorities, or at least in some vague mindset representing a shared challenge to the so-called white status quo. Note how those who dream of splitting the Latino vote do not talk in the same manner of drawing off the black vote. Do they cynically expect that black solidarity trumps the administration’s actual dismal record on black unemployment? Asian-Americans went 70 percent for Obama as well. Should Republicans advocate fast-track immigration from the Pacific, or cool their rhetoric about China? Or was the reason here as well that David Axelrod’s community-organizing-themed campaign brilliantly demonized Mitt Romney as an uncool old rich white guy, while reminding minorities that the future of America is to be theirs?

For all the talk of family values and natural conservatism, there is not much evidence that rates of illegitimacy, crime, or divorce are much lower among Latinos than among the general population, and plenty of reason to believe that they may in fact be higher than averages among whites and Asians. Issues like abortion, gay marriage, and environmentalism have been successfully welded by the Latino leadership into a liberal package — at best, the price that Latino elites pay to white liberal counterparts for their support of amnesty and generous entitlements; at worst, because they believe these issues are a thorn in the side of the status quo establishment. After all, why would a right-to-life argument or a traditional-marriage appeal attract Latinos when it did not win over the black community this year — despite all the publicity given conservative black preachers, whose congregations were supposedly so angry over Obama’s liberal social agenda that they were going to sit out the election?

In truth, the only means of winning over Latino voters to conservative positions are long-term and deeply embedded in American customs, economic self-interest, and the melting pot. Whatever short-term political damage would accrue from closing the borders would be outweighed by the long-term value that reduced and legal immigration will have in assimilating Latinos — the key to both their economic success and sympathy for conservative politics. At present, second- and third-generation Latinos, many of them middle-class and without knowledge of Spanish, have legitimized their claims for preference on the basis of a pool of over 12 million illegal aliens and tens of thousands more who arrive each year and have not gained parity. Illegal immigrants from the poor interior of Mexico and from Central America, when lumped in with Latino-Americans, warp all sorts of statistics from education levels, test scores, and English proficiency to healthcare, and thereby provide arguments that the dominant culture has not done enough for all Latinos.

The model for Republicans should be the Italian immigration experience. Italian-Americans were once a monolithic Democratic pool of millions. But, as immigration from Sicily and the rest of Italy greatly slowed down, and as the natural course of American capitalism brought Italian-Americans into the middle class and differentiated them into subclasses of higher and lower incomes, “Italian” ceased to be an ethnic straitjacket. Today, Italian-Americans may vote partly on the basis of tribal pride, but not in any predictable political pattern. Italian conservatives have no problem voting against Andrew Cuomo or Nancy Pelosi, while liberal Italians did not particularly rally to Rudy Giuliani. The 30 percent of Latinos who opposed Barack Obama may suggest that we are seeing the beginning of such a phenomenon.

What, then, should Republicans do? Stick to their melting-pot principles and apply them across the board, regardless of race and tribe, emphasizing the content of our characters rather than the color of our skins. Of course, avoid gratuitous polarization and loose talk. Close the border, and invest in the formidable powers of American assimilation, integration, and intermarriage to achieve for a soon-to-be-closed pool of Latinos what it has already done for Japanese and Italians. Consider the Dream Act only if it is coupled with deportation of many of those who do not meet its requirements and with employer sanctions and border enforcement. A particular Italian-American may sometimes be indistinguishable to the eye from a particular Mexican-American, but the former does not qualify for affirmative action, does not take Italian Studies courses, is not labeled a victimized minority because of ethnic affinity with millions of poor Sicilian newcomers — and is not beholden any longer to the Democratic party.

A final note. Republicans have convinced themselves that somehow they were insensitive and thus lost minority votes. In fact, for nearly four years the Obama administration and its surrogates worked to create a racialist divide — energized by talk of a new demographic future — that was never successfully countered. When the pastor who gave the benediction when Barack Obama was sworn into office brags that whites are going to Hell, or when a columnist like Colbert King likens Romney to Andrew Johnson, the wrecker of Reconstruction, or when Chris Matthews serially alleges racism on the part of Republicans, or when Attorney General Eric Holder refers to blacks as “my people” and others as “a nation of cowards” — and when these efforts are not countered or even addressed — then the stereotype of a racist establishment certainly takes hold. The success of the Obama campaign in capturing the minority vote was not due to a Republican failure to have minority voices (cf. the party’s multiracial convention), nor was it due to opposition to the Dream Act, but rather to a moral failure on the part of Republicans (not even a mild rebuke to Joseph Lowery’s racist rant?) to demonstrate that those who were building racial divisions for political advantage were themselves the real racists. If Republicans do not believe in a society in which race is to be incidental, not essential to our characters, and if they cannot stand on such principles, then why should anyone else?

©2012 Victor Davis Hanson

Anatomies of Electoral Madness

by Victor Davis Hanson

PJ Media

“Gonna be some hard times coming down.”
—Kris Kristofferson, Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid

One way of making sense out of nonsense in this new age is simply to believe the opposite of what you read. I have been doing that and it often works. Read more →

The Academic Establishment Goes After Bruce Bawer

by Bruce Thornton

Frontpage Magazine

Bruce Bawer, the intrepid international journalist and Freedom Center Shillman Fellow, has just published The Victims’ Revolution, an expose of “Identity Studies” in American universities. These are the programs predicated on the allegation that certain minorities in America, mainly women, gays, blacks, and Latinos, are victims of continuing prejudice, bigotry, sexism, and racism. Read more →

Tuning Out a President

by Victor Davis Hanson

PJ Media

Tuned-out Presidents

Somewhere around early 2006, the nation tuned out George W. Bush for a variety of reasons, some warranted, but many not. Read more →

%d bloggers like this: