Although Americans are in favor of immigration, they’re willing to accept stricter enforcement measures. Their willingness will test the hardliners’ ability to go as far with their anti-immigrant proposals in 2024.
Democrats and Republicans have joined the chorus of those who claim that the Border Patrol is experiencing a “crisis”. This comes as the number of people it says it meets has reached record highs.
Immigration advocates, and even conservative Republicans, are alarmed by the former president Donald Trump’s promise to continue his hard-line immigration policy from his first term.
Trump’s language has escalated with statements that immigrants are ” contaminating the blood of our nation“, echoing Nazi rhetoric. He also proposed drastic measures such as a mass deportation sweep modelled after Eisenhower’s ” Operation Wetback“.
Trump’s plans would end the constitutional right of birthright citizenship and invoke a World War II Law that allows him to detain or deport non-U.S. citizens at his discretion. He also planned to cut off funding for housing and transportation for those who do not have legal status. According to The Associated Press.
There are signs that the historic American support for immigration is eroding.
A Gallup June poll found that Americans still believe immigration is good for their country. However, this is down from 77% by 2020.
A recent NBC News survey found that 3 out of 4 registered voters favored Congress spending more money to address immigration.
Leaders in blue cities, which have welcomed immigrants for years, are now complaining about the strain on resources due to an influx of immigrants from Texas and other states. As immigrants, who have been working for years without legal status, watch as asylum seekers from Venezuela and other countries get work permits, dividing lines appear.
This month, a number progressive and immigration advocacy groups have warned Americans to take a break and think twice before demanding that action be taken about the “border crises.”
Trump’s immigration policy is not only about immigrants. Tom Jawetz is the senior fellow for Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress.
Hard-liners have already been trying to see if they can sneak into the cracks of voters’ support of immigration. Progressives are worried that Americans don’t understand the impact of certain policies.
“What Trump describes is not only about immigration policy. He is not only trying to get his supporters fired up for the primary season. Vanessa Cardenas is the executive director of America’s Voice, a group that advocates for immigrants. “This is not the norm, and we as a collective cannot desensitize to his rhetoric because we know his words and actions have dangerous consequences.”
Snared in an immigration dragnet
Todd Schulte is the president and executive Director of FWD.us. An immigration advocacy group. He said, “When you talk about going after one million, two million, three million people each year based upon their immigration status, then you’re violating civil liberties and the basic rights of Americans born in this nation and the tens and millions of immigrants that come here every year.”
Arizona: What happened?
Arizona SB 1070 law was signed in 2010 and allows officers to enforce other laws by investigating the immigration or citizenship status of people they stop. The initial law went even further and required officers to investigate citizenship and immigration statuses for everyone they arrested or detained. This led to lawsuits , as many Latino residents claimed they were unfairly target. The courts eventually struck down some of SB 1070.
Some states could test whether the conservative Supreme Court is more willing to reconsider the Arizona law, which allows states to enforce immigration laws. This was a federal jurisdiction.
Republican governors in Texas and Florida, where Hispanics make up a third or more of the population, have implemented hard-line immigration laws. Communities are already feeling the effects.
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It has caused families and workers to flee. This includes some citizens who have family members that are not citizens. The law has interfered in some work by religious people who are required to help people regardless of immigration status.
Texas is trying to establish its own immigration enforcement force. A bill is awaiting the signature of Gov. Greg Abbott would sign a bill that allows all peace officers to arrest anyone they believe entered the United States illegally.
Abbott has also signed bills providing $1.54 billion in border security funds, including construction of border walls, as well as one imposing 10-year penalties on smuggling and transporting illegal immigrants.
This bill is a concern for faith leaders in Florida who minister to their congregations regardless of immigration status.
“This language about an immigration crisis is the result of inaction. Congress refuses action and then declares a crisis. You can’t do both. “You can’t claim that we won’t do anything, but then declare a crisis,” said Gabriel Salguero. He is the pastor of The Gathering Place in Orlando, Florida and the founder of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition.
Gallup’s poll shows that Americans want to see less immigration, and this is the highest level since 2014.
Politics vs. policy
The Biden administration, despite Republican criticisms of Biden’s handling of border issues and immigration matters, has praised its efforts to stop illegal immigration by enforcing the law and expanding legal pathways for those eligible.
A comment from the conservative Cato Institute was based on an analysis of immigration policies under Trump and Biden. It found that “Mr. Trump’s policies resulted far fewer removals, in absolute terms, and a slightly greater percentage of border crossers released than Mr. Biden’s” and suggested that no administration could really eradicate migration.
Mike Madrid, a Latino registered Republican political consultant, said that immigration was being framed as an issue of security and a threat. When this is combined with the constant images coming from the border, “these factors are clearly having an effect when Americans already feel that crime is a problem and they view border as something that should and can be controlled.”
Madrid stated that the fact that Latino voters are demanding greater border security opens the door for some of Trump’s rhetoric and positions as well as those of Republican governors.
He said that if Joe Biden does not start articulating an exact, clear border security policy, they will continue to lose Latino and other voters, at a moment when they cannot afford to lose any.
Jose Parra, who worked as a political consultant for the late Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, of Nevada, stated that, while there is a slight change in Americans’ attitudes towards immigration, it is “a perception that border control is out of hand.” He added, “I believe Americans still support immigration handled in an orderly, humane manner.”
Parra said Trump overreached, just as he did by approving the intentional taking and separation of migrant children and their parents.
Latino Americans could be easily trapped by “show me your documents” policies, or Operation Wetback style roundups. He said they could also galvanize Americans to turn against him and Republicans. This happened in Arizona, and long before, in California when the antiimmigrant Proposition 187 came into effect.