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America’s Voice Election 2020 Weekly Digest #2

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Each Friday through Election Day, we will be putting out a short weekly memo that highlights the biggest 2020 election storylines at the intersection of electoral politics and immigration. 

Below is our second installment (if you missed last week’s, click here):

Key Immigration Politics Storyline of This Week

  • Kris Kobach lost and Sheriff Joe Arpaio is losing – but Trump’s GOP is still anchored to the sinking ship of racism and xenophobia. Kobach…Arpaio…Jeff Sessions…Steve King…Corey Stewart…Lou Barletta… The nativist blowhards are falling one by one. We look forward to more such xenophobes falling this November, starting with the racist in the White House. Will this cause the GOP to rethink its embrace of racism and xenophobia as the central organizing principle of this Trumpian party? No, racism and xenophobia will be the main GOP message this fall, and a majority of Republican voters seem fine with that. Will it work? No, it won’t. Because a majority of the voters in competitive elections are not fine with that. The divisiveness backfires with the majority of Americans. Today’s multiracial, multiethnic America wants to reckon with four centuries of white supremacy and racial injustice, wants to treat immigrants and refugees fairly and humanely, and wants strong leadership to bring us together in the face of once-in-a-century threats.

In Case You Missed It…

  • Biden makes “day one” commitment on Dreamers and 11 million: Earlier this week, Joe Biden reiterated his plans: “On day one, I’ll send a bill to Congress creating a clear roadmap to citizenship for Dreamers and the 11 million undocumented people already strengthening our nation. It’s long overdue.” As a reminder how much the politics of immigration have changed, note that Biden’s assertion didn’t even generate much media attention and that he didn’t feel the need to add “border security” and “enforcement” messaging to balance out the call for citizenship. Fifteen years ago, such a statement would have led to blowback from many Democratic operatives and electeds, especially from swing states. Today, it’s mainstream, popular and uncontroversial, at least among the majority of Americans.  

Polling Snapshot

  • But in Trumplandia, Biden’s support for a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants comes under attack. Bring it! President Trump’s new reelection ads criticize Joe Biden for supporting a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, stating that Biden wants to “give amnesty to 11 million illegal immigrants.” This is a debate we welcome! The American people overwhelmingly and consistently support legal status and citizenship for undocumented immigrants — both before and during the  pandemic. Thank you, Donald Trump. Thank you, Jared Kushner. Thank you, Bill Stepien.” Here is some very recent polling: 
    • By 82 to 13%, voters in battleground states support for “path to citizenship” (GSG for The Immigration Hub, FWD.us, and America’s Voice).
    • By 74% to 24%, voters nationwide support allowing undocmented immigrants to stay in America (Hart Research for CAP Action Fund). 
    • 77% of swing state voters support a pathway to citizenship (Civis for The Immigration Hub). 
    • 68% of undecided battleground state voters support a pathway to citizenship (ALG for NILC-IJF).
  • How to square stronger than ever support for immigration and support a temporary pause in immigration? The beginning of the NPR headline regarding its new poll was surprising: “Americans Back Trump On Immigration.” Then comes the kicker: “But Only To Stop COVID-19. “Americans do want to take steps to limit immigration right now,” said [Ipsos] pollster Mallory Newall. “But that’s not because their views on immigration have changed. It’s because they want to do everything in their power to contain the spread of COVID-19.” Here are some of the recent polls showing resilient support for immigration:
    • Gallup just reported the highest levels of support for increases in legal immigration ever: On July 1, Gallup reported that “Nearly 8 in ten (77%) Americans think immigration is a good thing for their country…Thirty-four percent of Americans, up from 27% a year ago, would prefer to see immigration to the U.S. increased. This is the highest support for expanding immigration Gallup has found in its trend since 1965. Meanwhile, the percentage favoring decreased immigration has fallen to a new low of 28%, while 36% think it should stay at the present level. This marks the first time in Gallup’s trend that the percentage wanting increased immigration has exceeded the percentage who want decreased immigration.” 
    • July polling from CAP Action/Hart Research shows voters support pro-immigrant and pro-immigration policies: “Americans recognize the important contributions that immigrants are making to combat the pandemic, and—by large margins—support granting legal status and a pathway to citizenship for essential workers in the fight against COVID-19.” In addition, Hart Research writes, “This poll reveals a substantially improved environment since April, with support for immigration and immigrants largely back to pre-pandemic levels. Americans increasingly recognize immigrants’ contributions during the current crisis.”

For more, read our take here.

Ad Watch: 2020 Immigration Ad of The Week:

  • From 2020 Ad Watch, a project of America’s Voice: One Nation, Karl Rove’s “dark money” super PAC dropped a set of ads in many Senate races. Many were in support of Republican Senators like Ernst (IA), Daines (MT), and McConnell (KY) and use anti-China dog-whistles around COVID and jobs. But their Alabama attack ad against Sen. Doug Jones was packed full of racist dog-whistles. The ad begins by cherry-picking images from BLM protests in San Francisco, New York, and Portland. As the narrator says, these are “sanctuary cities that harbor illegal immigrant criminals,” the ad shows a dramatized unauthorized border crossing. The ad continues making the deadly association of the non-white other as inherently dangerous and criminal by showing dramatized stock footage of a masked man breaking a window and another hooded man brandishing a knife. All the while attacking Senator Jones for voting against the Trump Administration’s attempt to defund sanctuary cities. 

Final Word

  • AV video series blows the whistle on dog-whistle politics: Our latest video in our ongoing series explores the backlash to dog-whistle politics in 2017, 2018, and 2019 with Frank Sharry. Read our report on key races from 2017-19 on how the GOP’s reliance on racism and xenophobia has failed, indeed backfired, in multiple close races during Trump’s presidency.