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The Republican Party Is Out Of Touch – With The American Public And With The Facts On Immigration

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As the Republican field continues to double-down on positions defined by anti-immigrant hostility, two new pieces out today explain how this lurch to the right is not just out of sync with the American public, it’s out of sync with the facts, too.

In a new National Journal piece, Ron Brownstein captures how the cultural views of Republican voters and contenders remains out of step with the majority of the public.  He writes:

“Re­pub­lic­ans have many reas­ons for op­tim­ism about the 2016 pres­id­en­tial elec­tion, but the latest NBC/Wall Street Journ­al poll re­leased this week shows again that so­cial is­sues may be their biggest obstacle in re­cap­tur­ing the White House next year.

“On every ma­jor cul­tur­al is­sue the sur­vey tested, more Amer­ic­ans en­dorsed po­s­i­tions that the Demo­crat­ic nom­in­ee is likely to sup­port next year, while in al­most every case most Re­pub­lic­an primary voters em­braced the minor­ity view…

“Cu­mu­lat­ively, the sur­vey un­der­scores the sense that Demo­crats now rep­res­ent a ‘co­ali­tion of trans­form­a­tion’ com­fort­able with the demo­graph­ic and cul­tur­al changes upend­ing Amer­ic­an life while the GOP rep­res­ents a ‘co­ali­tion of res­tor­a­tion’ that largely re­volves around the groups most un­settled by the changes.

“For in­stance, by an over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of 69 per­cent to 26 per­cent, likely GOP primary voters said they would end birth­right cit­izen­ship for the chil­dren of un­doc­u­mented im­mig­rants, as Don­ald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, and oth­er GOP pres­id­en­tial can­did­ates have pro­posed. But a 53 per­cent to 42 per­cent ma­jor­ity of all Amer­ic­ans said they would pre­serve birth­right cit­izen­ship…

“The con­trast was even more strik­ing on the ques­tion of elim­in­at­ing fed­er­al fund­ing for Planned Par­ent­hood, as House Re­pub­lic­ans and the lead­ing GOP pres­id­en­tial can­did­ates have urged. Likely GOP primary voters backed the idea by 60 per­cent to 35 per­cent; but the pub­lic over­all re­jec­ted the idea by vir­tu­ally the same mar­gin, 61 per­cent no, to 35 per­cent yes.

“The sur­vey also un­der­scored the ex­tent to which shared cul­tur­al val­ues un­der­pin the heav­ily urb­an­ized con­tem­por­ary Demo­crat­ic co­ali­tion, which re­lies primar­ily on votes from the mil­len­ni­al gen­er­a­tion, ra­cial minor­it­ies, and col­lege-edu­cated whites (par­tic­u­larly wo­men).

“For the sprawl­ing Re­pub­lic­an field, these res­ults re­in­force the chal­lenge of ap­peal­ing to a primary base largely ali­en­ated from the cul­tur­al and demo­graph­ic trends mak­ing mod­ern Amer­ica, without ali­en­at­ing the ma­jor­ity of gen­er­al-elec­tion voters largely com­fort­able with these changes.”

And public polling is just one place where the Republican Party has it wrong.  They’re struggling with the facts too.

A new headline in the Washington Post sums up the Party’s problem on immigration perfectly: “The biggest ideas underpinning the anti-immigration movement aren’t backed up by data.”

In the piece, Storyline writer Jeff Guo lifts up a new study from the National Academies of Sciences, which takes down some of the GOP’s favorite false assertions about immigrants and their families.  As Guo writes:

“America’s immigrants, as it turns out, are doing alright.

“The report presents a catalog of current data on the foreign-born, but perhaps its most valuable contribution is the historical context. For a nation that takes pride in its immigrant heritage, America has an tradition of denigrating newcomers. As the report points out:

“‘Many descendants of immigrants who are fully integrated into U.S. society remember the success of their immigrant parents and grandparents but forget the resistance they encountered—the riots where Italians were killed, the branding of the Irish as criminals who were taken away in “paddy wagons,” the anti-Semitism that targeted Jewish immigrants, the racist denial of citizenship to Chinese immigrants, and the shameful internment of Japanese American citizens.

“‘This historical amnesia contributes to the tendency to celebrate the nation’s success in integrating past immigrants and to worry that somehow the most recent immigrants will not integrate and instead pose a threat to American society and civic life.’

“Immigration has of course changed in recent decades, both in both complexion and in the kinds of challenges that newcomers face. But in many of the ways that matter, the situation is the same as it ever was: immigrants quietly striving — and mostly succeeding.”

Guo goes on to highlight four key dispelled notions about immigrants in the report, including the fact that they’re “picking up English just as quickly as their predecessors”; they “tend to have more education than before”; they are “much less likely to commit crimes”; and, lastly, that “immigrants are more likely to have jobs than the native-born.”

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Republicans are entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts.  At some point, the GOP will have a reckoning.  You can’t be on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the facts and the wrong side of the majority of voters and prosper as a party.  But given the lack of backbone and leadership from within today’s GOP, it may take a wave election – or two – to jar modernizing Republicans into standing up – for facts over myths, for voters over anger, and for dealing with America as it is rather than imagining a return to an America that never was.”