Beyond his personal story and endorsement of legalization for the undocumented (whoa!), Reihan Salam makes an important point in his recent WSJ essay: “We need to recognize that the immigration debate isn’t really about immigrants. In truth, it’s about the children of immigrants.”
And it is millions of US citizen children of legal immigrants who will bear the brunt of the Trump administration’s newest proposed rule that, according to the NYT, “immigrants who legally use public benefits like food assistance and Section 8 housing vouchers could be denied green cards.”
According to Politico, “The proposed regulation would provide a more robust enforcement mechanism for longstanding statutory boilerplate that bars immigrants ‘likely to become a public charge.’” The rule expands the original definition issued issued in 1999 that immigrants could be considered a public charge if, “they were ‘primarily dependent’ on government benefits, but narrowly defined those benefits as cash assistance or long-term, institutionalized care.”
Look for more on this topic as the week progresses.
The rule provides a powerful talking point for candidates looking to advance their electoral campaigns on the backs of US citizen children of legal immigrants. But, will the political strategy motivate the base?
In looking at the religious profile of Trump voters, the Cato Institute’s Emily Ekins wrote in last week’s New York Times, “That religious conservatives are far more supportive of diversity and immigration than secular conservatives.”
A closer look at the data paints an interesting picture: 78% of nonreligious Trump voters believe unauthorized immigration is a drain on American society compared to 61% of frequent churchgoers — a 17-point difference; and, 67% of nonreligious Trump voters think it ought to be harder to immigrate to the U.S. compared to less than half (48 percent) of frequent churchgoing Trump voters — a 19-point difference.
Ekins also found, “Secular Trump voters are also more bothered by interactions with non-English speakers than are churchgoing Trump voters.”
In her conclusion, Ekins writes, “Some [on the left] may hope that encouraging conservatives to disengage from religion will make them more tolerant. However, these data provide some indication they may not become more tolerant, but rather become intolerant of different groups.”
Which brings me to mimosas.
Chapter 7 of Jon Favreau’s documentary about the future of the Democratic Party, “The Newcomers,” makes a surprising case for how Democrats could reach across political lines on immigration.
Data scientist Dan Wagner tells Favreau (beginning at 48:10), “Democrats fail to realize this is largely a Christian country… in our cosmopolitan bubbles, we don’t go to church, we don’t do these things, we are having fucking brunch and drinking mimosas.” Meanwhile, Wagner says, “They’re going to church and they are aligning their communities around a shared belief that the nature of their country and the nature of themselves is anchored around the words of Jesus Christ. And that they believe we are all God’s children.”
Wagner concludes, “If we recognize the common humanity that we have with them, the policy aligns with that common humanity. But we don’t. We bitch. We call them racist. We call them whatever. And as a result, we feel good, but we lose.”
I’m tired of losing.
PS. Speaking of the faith community, in this week’s episode of Only in America (not to be confused with Pod Save America), I spoke with Christian author and immigration activist, Sarah Quezada, about her recent trip to detention facilities along the US-Mexico border.