Support for Increased Immigration Up to 25%

Trend: U.S. Adults' Preferences on U.S. Immigration Levels

Gallup: “The U.S. public demonstrates no clear preference on what U.S. immigration levels should be. On this contentious issue, 40% say levels should remain where they are, but only slightly fewer (34%) advocate a decrease in the stream of immigrants. One-quarter of the country prefers an increase in immigration levels, the sole response of the three to see a general increase in support over the past 15 years.”

Immigration Ruling Savages Attempts to Address Nationwide Crisis

New York Times Editorial Board comments on the decision by Federal District Judge Andrew Hanen, of Brownsville, Tex. to block the first of President Obama’s immigration programs.

“Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas was so excited at Monday’s decision that he jumped on Twitter to say Mr. Obama’s amnesty order ‘has been ruled unconstitutional.’”

“No, it hasn’t.”

“What he did not do was dispute the president’s broad authority to decide whom to deport, which is exactly what the Obama administration did in prioritizing the removal of immigrants who pose a threat to public safety or national security. Yet the judge blocked the action, which he called ‘a massive change in immigration practice.’”

“He danced around the fundamental point — as the Supreme Court reiterated as recently as 2012 — that setting immigration policy is the prerogative of the federal government, not the states.”

“On immigration, the Republicans seem to want only to savage the president’s efforts to address a pressing nationwide crisis, just as they have on health care reform. They are good at unleashing rage against Mr. Obama’s supposed lawlessness, but they have no meaningful solutions of their own.”

Immigrants Staying Longer

Unauthorized Immigrants Staying in U.S. for Longer

Pew Research: “Immigration policy debates continue to roil Congress and Washington, with Obama’s recent executive action likely to affect millions of unauthorized immigrants. While the population growth of unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. has stabilized, there’s been a sharp increase in the median length of time they have lived here. The typical unauthorized immigrant adult has now been in the U.S. for nearly 13 years, up from 7.4 years in 1995.”

Support for Increasing Immigration Rising Steadily

Gallup: “The small amount of Americans who favor increased immigration include just 14% of Republicans. In fact, more Americans think immigration should be decreased than increased, and by a nearly two-to-one margin, 41% vs. 22%. A third in the U.S. are satisfied with the level as it is.”

Should Immigration be Increased, Decreased, or Stay the Same trend since 1999

“Americans’ views on immigration have varied a bit in the past 15 years, with the dominant view shifting between decreasing immigration and maintaining it at the current level. Some of these changes may reflect the ebb and flow of Americans’ reactions to the 9/11 attacks in 2001 as well as rocketing unemployment in 2009, with both events triggering a temporary surge in anti-immigration sentiment. However, the Gallup trend also chronicles a separate narrative: a steady increase in public support for increasing immigration, rising from 10% in 1999 to 21% in 2012 and 22% today.”

Immigrants Moving to Middle America

immigrants midwest

Vox: “This map, from a Pew Charitable Trusts report on immigrant populations, looked at the native-born and foreign-born populations of each county in the US in 1990 — and then again, in 2008-2012. The coloring is based on two things: whether the native-born population increased or declined over those twenty or so years, and whether the immigrant population increased or dropped over the same time.”

“Check out the dark green parts of the map: there’s a concentration of them around the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles. Those are counties where the population grew from 1990 to 2012, even though there were fewer native-born Americans — the growth of the immigrant population was so great that it offset the decline of the native population.”

Republican Radicalization on Policy Issues

Paul Waldman in the American Prospect observes a Republican radicalization on hot-button policy issues embraced by the Obama administration.

For example, “clear majorities of the public have long favored a path to citizenship … But that has changed, because Republicans have changed. As the Post described [a Quinnipiac poll] results, ‘Although [Republicans] supported citizenship over deportation 43 to 38 percent in November 2013, today they support deportation/involuntary departure over citizenship, 54 to 27 percent.'”

“That’s an enormous shift, and it provides an object lesson in a dynamic that has repeated itself many times during the Obama presidency.”

Waldman argues that when an issue like immigration or health care becomes a top agenda item by the Obama administration, “you get a particular cycle. Elite Republicans take their place in the fight against Obama; then rank-and-file Republicans follow along; then pushed by their constituencies, the officeholders harden their positions, which in turn pulls their voters farther to the right, and on it goes. The particularly intense loathing Republicans at all levels have for Obama feeds the cycle, pushing them toward not just disagreeing with him on particular courses of policy but rejecting the underlying principles he holds.”

Republicans Retreat on Immigration With Hollow Threats

Dana Milbank argues that Republicans’ frivolous, ineffective threats indicate that President Obama has already won the battle on immigration.

“There will be more spluttering and stomping and shouting about Obama’s illegal and unconstitutional activities, but pay no attention. In the immigration stare-down, Republicans have already blinked. Unwilling to squander their new majority and public support by risking a government shutdown, they are quickly falling in line behind symbolic protests.”

“Republican lawmakers have come up with a set of possible responses, from the “frivolous (the State of the Union snub) to the outrageous (impeachment). But all signs indicate Republicans have abandoned attempts to defund Obama’s executive actions under the threat of a shutdown — at least for now. Instead, they plan to keep the government running through Sept. 30, probably allowing immigration-related spending to lapse earlier next year. This would be paired with a symbolic vote blocking Obama’s executive actions.”

Making a Lame Duck Presidency Relevant

E.J. Dionne calls on President Obama and House Democrats to stick together in order to “prevent the next two years from becoming a festival of reaction.”

“If Obama and progressives can cooperate to keep the worst from happening, they — and particularly the president — can also get things done. Obama’s executive actions on immigration squarely challenge congressional Republicans to put up or shut up on their claims that they actually want reform.”

“The Obama administration moved on another front last week to curb ozone emissions linked to asthma and heart disease. Republicans said they would try to block the new anti-pollution regulations. Okay, let’s fight it out. Again, conservatives will have to explain why they want to reverse an initiative rather than obstruct action altogether and then blame Obama for being ineffectual.”

“Yes, such steps will call forth enraged rhetoric about ‘the imperial president.’ But guess what? Starting in the Reagan era, when Democrats controlled Congress, the Heritage Foundation and other conservative groups put out studies and books attacking ‘the imperial Congress’ because they didn’t like any interference with a president from their own side. It seems that altered political circumstances can lead to neck-snapping changes in convictions that are allegedly rooted in constitutional principle.”

Obama’s Immigration Order: A Humane Act or Regulatory Bomb?

Paul Krugman: “So there are some difficult issues in immigration policy … But one thing you shouldn’t feel conflicted about is the proposition that we should offer decent treatment to children who are already here — and are already Americans in every sense that matters. And that’s what Mr. Obama’s initiative is about.”

“The truth is that sheer self-interest says that we should do the humane thing. Today’s immigrant children are tomorrow’s workers, taxpayers and neighbors. Condemning them to life in the shadows means that they will have less stable home lives than they should, be denied the opportunity to acquire skills and education, contribute less to the economy, and play a less positive role in society. Failure to act is just self-destructive.”

Eric Posner warns that while “the deferred action program does not violate the Constitution … it may modify political norms that control what the president can do.”

“The point is not just that Republican presidents can do what Obama has done. It is that enforcement discretion creates an advantage for Republicansit favors conservative governance and hurts liberal governance. The reason for this asymmetric effect is that the great bulk of federal law is liberal economic regulation, not conservative morals regulation. A conservative president can refuse to enforce laws, but a liberal president can’t enforce laws that don’t exist.”

“After licking their wounds, Republicans will realize that President Obama’s deferred enforcement action could be a bomb planted at the heart of the regulatory state. It will take only a Republican president to light the fuse.”

Is Obama’s Use of Executive Powers Unprecedented?

Julie Hirschfeld Davis in the New York Times: “President Obama’s action to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation and grant them work permits opens a new front in the decades-long debate over the scope of presidential authority.”

“Although Mr. Obama is not breaking new ground by using executive powers to carve out a quasi-legal status for certain categories of unauthorized immigrants — the Republican Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush all did so — his decision will affect as many as five million immigrants, far more than the actions of those presidents.”

“Mr. Obama’s action is also a far more extensive reshaping of the nation’s immigration system.”

“Some lawyers critical of Mr. Obama argue that by publicly grouping a large number of undocumented immigrants who are not subject to American law and granting them a special status, the president has gone far beyond the limits of prosecutorial discretion and crossed the line into legislative fiat.”

“Previous presidents who used their executive authority to shield undocumented immigrants confronted little of the fury that Mr. Obama now faces, in part because their actions affected fewer people and the issue was not as polarizing at the time.

In addition: “Mr. Obama may be paving the way for future Republican presidents to act similarly to contravene laws that Democrats cherish.”

A Closer Look at Who is Immigrating to the U.S.

Ben Casselman of 538 contends that the make-up of our immigrants has changed significantly.

“The immigration debate … focuses primarily on illegal immigration from Latin America. Yet most new immigrants aren’t Latinos. Most Latinos aren’t immigrants. And, based on the best available evidence, there are fewer undocumented immigrants in the U.S. today than there were in 2007. ”

“In the past five years, the number of new immigrants (those in the country less than a year) from China has risen 37 percent, to more than 70,000. Immigration from India and other Asian countries is also increasing, though at a more modest rate.”

“As a result, Asia has surpassed Latin America as the dominant source of new immigrants to the U.S. Asia accounted for 45 percent of all new immigrants in 2012, compared to 34 percent for Latin America.”

“Almost by definition, illegal immigration is difficult to track. But Pew has developed a well-regarded methodology for calculating the size of the unauthorized population, which essentially involves subtracting the number of legal immigrants from the total foreign-born population, subject to certain adjustments.”

“The number of undocumented immigrants remains high, but illegal immigration — the number of new undocumented workers entering the country each year — has fallen close to zero.”



Comparing Obama’s Vetoes and Executive Orders to Past Presidents

Danny Vinik points out that “other presidents … have had to use their veto power much more frequently. Franklin D. Roosevelt, for instance, vetoed 635 bills during his 12 years in office. Bill Clinton vetoed 37 bills. Obama has vetoed just two bills during his presidency.”

As for executive orders, “Ronald Reagan, for instance, issued 381 executive orders. Through almost six years in office, Obama has issued 193.”

Supporting Immigration: Good Policy, Bad Politics

New York Times: “President Obama’s executive order eliminating the threat of deportation for millions of undocumented immigrants is good policy. It is the right thing to do. But it is a dangerous move for the Democratic Party.”

“Latinos and Asian-Americans made up only 11 percent of the electorate … Whites, meanwhile, accounted for 75 percent of the electorate. Far more than any other group, whites will decide the fate of the parties in the years to come. Unfortunately for the Democratic Party, the data suggest that immigration very much matters for whites.”

“Polls indicate that an overwhelming majority of white Americans view illegal immigration as a serious problem. A third think immigration over all is bad for the country.”

In sum: “Many white Americans see that America is changing, believe that immigration is driving many of the negative changes and know that one party stands largely on the side of immigrants while the other party stands largely in opposition. For many whites, this is a powerful motivation to vote Republican.”