The Nativist Immigrants

When hyphenated Americans sound like Trump voters


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"It's not just native-born Americans expressing nativist sentiments these days," Catherine Rampell writes. Once an immigrant has settled in, she might start sounding like Pat Buchanan. Rampell quotes some former foreigners—one arriving as recently as 2003—saying things like "I think that enough immigrants entered this country."

As Rampell notes, this isn't a new phenomenon. History is filled with imported Americans who turned up their noses at the next wave of new arrivals. But she has some interesting survey data to share, including a PRRI poll that did not merely ask Hispanics if they think newcomers strengthen or threaten American society; it asked where they were born and how long they've lived in the U.S. The results were pretty much what you'd expect: A majority of foreign-born Hispanics think immigration is good for the country, but the ones who have lived here a long time are much more likely to let a little nativism seep in:

Washington Post

Maybe it's just part of the assimilation process.

Vaguely related: "Meet the Muslim guy who took the convention stage and prayed for Trump."

NEXT: Republican Platform Denounces Kelo, the Eminent Domain Ruling That Trump Called 'Wonderful'

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  1. “It won’t last, brothers and sisters are natural enemies, like Englishmen and Americans, or Welshmen and Americans, or Japanese and Americans, or Americans and other Americans. Damn Americans, they ruined America!”

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  2. a PRRI poll that did not merely ask Hispanics if they think newcomers strengthen or threaten American society

    Meh. Why should I care what the Philippine Rice Research Institute asks Hispanics?

  3. Maybe it’s just part of the assimilation process.

    I’ll take it!

  4. Rampell makes the false assertion that illegal immigrants don’t receive welfare benefits. But their households do, far more so than U.S. citizen households.

    If they are poor, they do receive welfare benefits for their U.S. citizen children (such as food stamps, etc.):

    “Illegal immigrant households receive an average of $5,692 in federal welfare benefits every year, far more than the average “native” American household, at $4,431, according to a new report on the cost of immigration released Monday.

    The Center for Immigration Studies, in an analysis of federal cost figures, found that all immigrant-headed households ? legal and illegal ? receive an average of $6,241 in welfare, 41 percent more than native households. As with Americans receiving benefits such as food stamps and cash, much of the welfare to immigrants supplements their low wage jobs.”

    They also receive refundable tax credits and EITC even for their non-U.S. children:

    See “Obama: US Taxpayers Must Pay For Illegals’ Children,” Daily Caller, Nov. 21). And they can even claim it retroactively. See “IRS: illegal aliens can qualify for earned income tax credit.”

    1. Even the Cato Institute, which supports expanded immigration, concedes that illegal immigrants receive welfare, contrary to what Catherin Rampell claims. Many of the illegal aliens covered by Obama’s executive action would qualify for the EITC, which gives more to poor working adults who have children. A single mother of three earning $17,000 could get back as much as $6,000 for her children, according to a Tax Policy Center chart. “I fear the long-run impact on overall fiscal policy will be negative,” said Dan Mitchell, a budget expert at Cato institute, told Politico, citing the negative “effect when you look at the impact of amnesty on tax revenues and the burden of government spending.” Even prior to Obama’s action, illegal aliens were already getting at least $4 billion per year in refundable child tax credits, according to the IRS Inspector General.

    2. Dude, you forgot the black Harvard economist! How could you forget the black Harvard economist?

    3. That’s Richwine’s work. He calculated the cost of the immigration “reform” at $6 trillion.

      Which is leaving aside the cultural/political cost of permanently embedding a socialist federal executive and turning the whole country into California.

    4. Don’t forget, some unknown but non-zero percentage of illegals are using false IDs to pass as citizens. So, any figures on welfare for illegals are going to undercount the outlay.

    5. Cool story, bro. Im sure the Center for Immigration Studies is a totally legit actual research organization and not an astroturf group funded by a PAC or union.

      1. my bad! CIS was founded by white suoremacists like John Tanton & an offshoot of FAIR so I was completely off base here. This is REAL, OBJECTIVE SCIENCE.

  5. Once an immigrant has settled in, she might start sounding like Pat Buchanan.

    Then she probably needs to cut down to one pack a day.

  6. It’s worth noting that “Threatens traditional American customs and values” is not mutually exclusive of “Strengthens American society”.

    1. That is true, and you’ll see there’s a “neither/both” space in the chart. (And yes, it’s weird to lump “neither” and “both” together.)

      1. What do you suppose the (VOL) parenthetical means there? I poked around the PRRI site and couldn’t find any reference to it.

        1. “Volunteered.” As in, the pollsters didn’t offer both or neither as an option, but some of the respondents volunteered one of those as their answer.

          1. It’s kind of heartening that they are getting Gary Johnson-level numbers of respondents refusing to entertain the artificial binary they are presented with.

    2. Perhaps people from East Bumfukistan got tired of living in East Bumfukistan moved here to get away from the shit in East Bumfukistan and want to discourage incoming East Bumfukistanese from coming here unless it is damn certian that the newcomers don’t bring any of that shit with them to start fucking things up here.

      Just a thought.

  7. So in every group but the most recent immigrants, more people didn’t care enough to express an opinion than feel hostility toward immigration. That is without a doubt the winningest platform to take.

    1. Realize now I was lumping in neither/both with don’t know/refused, but since neither can be taken as apathy toward immigration I’m still going with my snarky response.

  8. I just hate the “we’re a nation of immigrants” phrase.

    It’s true. We are. But it’s a false equivalency. It wasn’t very long ago that welfare didn’t exist and there were plenty of no-skill jobs available in manufacturing. New immigrants stood on their own two feet or not at all. And people still hated them, even though they weren’t brown.

    In today’s America 30% of natural-born Americans receive some form of federal welfare. But 51% of legal immigrants receive some federal welfare. And 71% of Central American and Mexican immigrants receive some federal welfare.

    I understand why they want to come here. I don’t understand why we want people who need to treat the country like a food pantry to be here. The 49% who don’t receive any help? Come on in. The 51% who do need to fuck off. Especially since welfare programs seem likely to continue to expand, the issue will only grow.

    1. So you want to get rid of the welfare programs, not the immigrants?

      1. Theoretically you could do one or the other. But I don’t really think you can roll back welfare programs that are already entrenched. It would literally take the food out of peoples’ mouths.

        It’s much easier to simply reform immigration and be more selective to who you let in. Obama has increased immigration to well over a million people a year. Immigration hasn’t been this high since the early 20th century. It’s just too many people combined with welfare programs. Even the ultra-liberal countries like Sweden have already acknowledged this in regards to the refugees.

        1. Ah, so you’re willing to restrict the freedom of people who aren’t you because you’re too lazy to do anything about the actual problem. Truly an American solution.

          1. Restrict the freedom of people who are citizens of other countries to receive free things that I’m forced to pay for under penalty of jail?

            That’s funny.

            But why don’t you explain to me. What is the “actual” problem?

            1. You’ve said yourself many times that the problem is illegal immigrants receiving welfare benefits. So the solution is either to reduce the largess of the welfare state or make it easier for immigrants to enter the country legally.

              1. When have I ever said that? I never mentioned illegal immigrants even once. I’m talking about LEGAL immigrants. I specifically said “legal.”

                How does making immigration easier help fix this issue? It would lead to MORE immigrants receiving welfare benefits.

                1. Ah, so you did. My mistake. So I guess the only solution is to reform the welfare state.

                  1. Technically new immigrants have to wait five years to get benefits. But that only applies to some programs. No kid related programs have those waiting periods. So poor immigrants are almost encouraged to have more kids, which of course creates a vicious cycle because most people don’t go from on welfare to self-made millionaire.

                    But I don’t agree about the “only” solution. Reform is good. But restricting immigration to the 600,000 or so people every year who don’t need help would make a big difference too.

                    1. Ah, restricting access to a basic human demand. That’s never worked before in history but I’m sure you’ll get it right this time.

                    2. You’re quite an ornery person.

                      Canada, Australia and the UK all have points based immigration systems that work. If you add value to society you get in. If you don’t, you don’t.

                    3. And no illegal immigrants into any of those countries? Astounding!

                    4. You’re yelling at shadows.

                    5. No I’m just confused because you keep saying that the problem is that welfare system is too generous to residents and citizens but you don’t think that welfare reform is a solution.

                    6. Some cows are more sacred than others, Hugh.

                    7. We don’t think it is likely to happen.

                      Important difference.

                    8. Your reading comprehension needs some serious work.

                      “Reform is good.”

                    9. They have the advantage of being geographically isolated.

                  2. If you want to reduce immigrants taking welfare, you can either reduce the number of immigrants, or the welfare state.

                    This isn’t rocket surgery, Hugh.

        2. It would literally take the food out of peoples’ mouths.

          I don’t know, you could probably get rid of laws restricting what churches/restaurants/individuals can do to feed homeless/needy people at the same time.

        3. But I don’t really think you can roll back welfare programs that are already entrenched.

          Neither can you realistically deport several million people.

          And I thought immigration topped in 2007 or so. Perhaps it’s risen again as the economy is picking up, but the recession seemed to have stopped the attractiveness of the US for a while.

          1. Perhaps ILLEGAL immigration topped in 2007. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I specifically said “legal” immigrants. And legal immigration has been growing every single year under Obama. It’s up to something like 1.3 million last year.

            Nowhere did I suggest deporting anybody either. I’m simply saying the people we let in from this point on needs to be rectified.

            1. Apologies, my brain excised the legal qualifier.

              But I’m still not sure how you’re getting your numbers. If we’re talking green-cards, those are over 1 million, but they were still higher in 2006 and have been falling since then.…..-Residents

              If we’re including legal temporary residents, it’s much higher than a million.

              1. The DHS numbers. The official term is people obtaining permanent resident status: /files/publications/ois_yb_2014.pdf

                That only goes up to 2014. But it shows that we’ve allowed over 1 million people in every year (except in 2013 when we allowed 990,553) for 10 years in a row. The last time we let in that many people over that extended a period of time was never. Cracked a million a bunch of times in the early 1900’s, but not consistently over such a prolonged period. Cracked a million for 89-91 as well.

                So I guess in fairness we should point out that it started with Bush and has simply continued under Obama.

          2. You don’t have to deport them. You just change the net flow.

            Many of them travel back.

          3. You don’t have to deport them. You just change the net flow.

            Many of them travel back.

    2. Is it the fault of the 51% that the feds are giving them goodies?

      1. I’m sure many of them come because of the goodies. And they pretty exclusively vote for more of them once they earn their citizenship.

        But “fault” is pretty loaded.

    3. And people still hated them, even though they weren’t brown.

      Not as we recognize it, but they often went to great lengths to explain why those immigrants are black.

    4. I just hate the “we’re a nation of immigrants” phrase.

      It’s true. We are.

      No, we’re not. By a vast majority, the people living here are natural-born citizens.

  9. I remember, as a young’n, wondering why there was the common hatred for freshmen. Why resent someone just because they’re a year or two behind you in school?

    Then, taking a summer class after my freshman year in high school, I saw a group of incoming freshmen pass by. And I boiled with rage.

  10. Once you are here legally, you have the same incentive to stop illegal immigration that any native born has. Thinking that people would vote against their own self interest out of some vague sense of rational solidarity always struck me as counter intuitive and more than a bit racist.

    1. racial solidarity.

  11. Last night I had dinner at a muslim dude’s house. His family came here in the early 70’s from Syria. He and his brother came together. His older brother brought his wife and two children. They went through the process of becoming citizens legally and both opened restaurants. The unmarried brother married and had three children.

    They came here because they liked what America is and wanted to be a part of it. They came of their own initiative putting their asses and their fortunes on the line. They built American lives and businesses. Their children are indistinguishable from average all-American kids. They are grown now and have gone on to build their own American families and lives.

    The subject of the refugees came up over dinner. I asked him what his opinion was of the plan to bring over shiploads of Syrian refugees; “It is insane. No good will come of it. There will be rivers of blood.”

    1. That is not surprising. That guy understands that Syria is fucked up because the people who live there are fucked up. He came to the US to get away from that. The guy of all people should understand how insane it is to let those refugees in.

      1. During the dinner he pointed out that we were all sitting at the table with our left hands in our laps. In Syria both elbows on the table is the norm.

        Me – “Why is that?”

        Him – “Everyone must keep their hands where everyone can see them. No one trusts anyone. “

        1. Swedes do the same thing…

      2. Guess it’s not more than a bit racist to assume that a guy is knowledgeable about the refugee program because he grew up in Syria 50 years ago.

        1. Thinking who grew up in a country and likely still has family there would know more about that country than some hipster yahoo whose claim to expertise is having a favorite kebab stand is just so racist.

          Let me guess MJG, you enjoy lecturing people from other cultures about their own culture? You being a superior white person of course know better.

          1. knowledgeable about the refugee program

        2. The instant I hear someone make the accusation of ‘racist!’ I immediately dismiss what they have to say.

          I think the guy understands the culture he grew up in and knows his own people. If that is racist then I am a racist.

          Racist – person who acknowledges the intuitively obvious.

            1. Heh. I wasn’t sure if you were being serious or not

              My apologies.

  12. Perhaps being an immigrant does not require that you buy into the open borders theory of immigration lock, stock and barrel. I realize that is a shocking thought.

    1. As a son of an immigrant, can confirm.

      “They want to come over here, fill out the damn paperwork and get rejected twice by another country like my parents did.”

      /Dad Who Came Over From Europe When He Was 2.

  13. Meh, borders are just invisible lines that men with guns think they can protect. People should be able to freely move wherever they please.

    Except my yard. If I catch anyone in my yard that I didn’t invite, I’ll shoot the fucker.

    1. If we didn’t have welfare or public schools and actually enforced the vagrancy laws, I would agree with you. Under those conditions, immigration would never be a negative since no one who couldn’t pay their own way would ever come here. Sadly, we don’t have those things, so the problem is a lot harder.

    2. Having battled trespassers, poachers and timber thieves for decades I can second that. Except the first part. I cant second that.

    3. You highlight a very interesting issue. In libertopia, open borders won’t exist, because all the land will be privately owned.

      1. If there isn’t some form of common area where goods and people can transit, it won’t be a problem since there won’t be anything except a subsistence economy and no one would want to come there.

      2. Here I was, getting a little sad that nobody would get the point.

        I grant you one Internet candy bar.

  14. Maybe they just think that cause they’ve realized the truth. Where else can a reality-show celebrity tweet his way to the presidency despite a lack of support (and indeed hysterical hostility) from any of the country’s power-monopolizing institutions or interest groups? Ok maybe a few other places. But still, USA! USA!

  15. I saw yesterday where Gary Johnson has endorsed the idea of replacing entitlements with a minimum universal income. There are worse ideas out there. What is puzzling is how Johnson reconciles that position with his support of open borders. His plan seems to be to open the borders up to all comers but make up for it by guaranteeing a minimum income to anyone who wants it. I don’t think that will work out like he assumes it will.

    1. Are there worse ideas out there? The math on this just doesn’t work at all. Any worthwhile amount of money would double the entire federal budget. So unless you’re eliminating Social Security and Medicare I just don’t see where this money is magically going to come from.

      Nevermind the hyper-inflation it would cause.

      1. Yes, you eliminate social security.

        Medicare needs reform regardless.

    2. Friedman was pushing that idea via the NIT in the 70s. It would require the political will to ditch SS & Medicare at the same time that we implemented a universal income, which means it would never happen in a million years when the Democrats could barely scrape together the votes to pass the ACA.

      Maybe if Hillary wins and the GOP freaks out & calls a nuclear-option constitutional convention to blow up the whole system, but even then NIT seems unlikely given political inertia and the universal popularity of SS & Medicare.

      1. There’s also no denying that transitioning out of Medicare would lead to lots of dead people who fell between the cracks and didn’t get the medical services they needed.

        1. Yep. There’s a reason why we shouldn’t go around pushing big red buttons for the sake of revolutionary reform.

        2. Of course plenty people already die from lack of needed medical services. We shouldn’t be comparing the good to the perfect here, because that sure ain’t what we got. We are probably in much better shape to transition out of our halfway socialism now than we will be in even the near future. Every year the pyramid gets narrower and less stable.

          But yes, I fear radical change would be very dangerous, not so much because of the logistics of implementing it, but because of the forces that will pull in the worst directions and actually be able to get headway towards even worse ideas, once radical changes are underway.

        3. I’m not so sure.

          Diuretics and antibiotics are ridiculously cheap. A nurse practitioner at walgreens can manage patients on those.

          Anything more exotic is a “nice to have” with marginal benefits on lifespan.

          Well, except for HepC cures which will be generic long before we end medicare.

  16. I don’t see why anyone would be particularly shocked by this. An immigrant who’s been here an extended period of time is much more likely to have become a part of the regular labor force. As such, new immigrants represent the same threat to their wages and job security to them that new immigrants would pose to native born workers.

    Just because open immigration yields a net economic benefit doesn’t mean that that benefit is universal. There are redistributive effects – winners and losers. People who stand to lose (and many long-time immigrants fit the same incentive profile of the native-born) aren’t going to take those losses too kindly.

    Don’t try to make this about ignorance when self-interest might better explain the situation.

    1. Immigrants pay less taxes and receive more benefits than native-born citizens.

      The net economic benefit thing is bullshit. The same people who believe that also believe China is on the cusp of surpassing the US economy based solely on the idea that more people increase GDP and that’s the only thing that matters. But less valuable workers actually lower the GDP per capita, where America is already far from the top, being half the number the top countries like Switzerland and Luxembourg are at.

      1. Economic benefit is not about government income statements.

        It’s also not about “average income”. If someone provides incremental economic value, there is a net benefit.

        This isn’t even basic economics. It’s basic mathematics.

        1. There seems, to me, to be a rough correlation between “net economic benefit” and “not on welfare”.

          If you are contributing more to the economy than you are consuming, shouldn’t you be getting paid enough to not be on welfare?

          1. Depends on who reaps the benefits.

            If there are 12 jobs, but 50 applicants, you might have someone adding $12 in value, but only getting paid 12 cents. Because in Mexico the pay is 11 cents.

            $11.88 accrues to the boss, or the customer.

          2. If you are contributing more to the economy than you are consuming, shouldn’t you be getting paid enough to not be on welfare?

            Generally, yes. Although, as Bubba point out, the benefit may be accruing to their employers and customers. And it could well be that some are adding value via the gray market.

            But, saying that immigrants have a higher incidence of being a drain on the economy than the native population is a long way from saying that, in total, immigrants represent such a drain.

        2. If someone provides incremental economic value, there is A benefit.

          If they take out more than they put in, it is not a NET benefit.

          That’s basic math.

          The average immigrant pays $0.87 for every $1.00 the average native-born citizen pays in taxes. Immigrants are on welfare at a 51% clip compared to Americans at a 30% clip. It really doesn’t take a genius to understand that’s not a net benefit in a system that operates at a deficit every single year.

          1. Economic benefit does not equal government income statements. If I provide you a service and the government doesn’t tax it, your formulation is that no economic benefit occurred. That’s ludicrous on its face.

  17. A challenge is that if it weren’t for teenaged mexicans having babies in Texas, we’d be Japan.

    I am not sure that is a better outcome.

    1. Well, those teenager Mexican girls can be quite attractive…

  18. A challenge is that if it weren’t for teenaged mexicans having babies in Texas, we’d be Japan.

    I am not sure that is a better outcome.


  20. “It’s not just native-born Americans expressing nativist sentiments these days,

    Isn’t it just crazy that people think representative governments should represent the mass of people they govern, and not just the ruling class and foreigners?

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