Although the base loathes illegal immigration, Republican politicians have been trying to make nice with the vocal illegal immigrant community, and therefore helped scupper any hopes this past political season that Congress would pass a reform bill tightening our borders and removing the amnesty reward for existing illegal immigrants (as well as the amnesty incentive for future illegal immigrants). In reaching this decision re immigration, the Republicans seemed to be operating on the assumption that anyone Hispanic is going to vote by race, regardless of social and economic interest. This is, of course, a narrow and, if you’ll pardon me for speaking so bluntly, a racist point of view.
Given the political calculations in Washington, it was fascinating to read an article in a British paper stating that a lot of newly minted citizens are in fact hewing to the Republican side of the political divide. They seem to be motivated both by the same dislike of cheaters I have (“we did it the honest way, so they should too”), and by a sense that they don’t want to replicate here the social and economic anarchy they escaped there (wherever “there” was):
Minutes after taking the Pledge of Allegiance, new American citizens are urged to register as voters by Democratic activists who see them as natural party supporters who could hold the key to the 2008 election.
But with increasing illegal immigration threatening the economy and security of the United States, many legal immigrants anxious to uphold the laws of their adopted country are moving towards the more hard-line immigration stance of Republicans.
Even in California’s Democratic-controlled San Diego, sizeable numbers of America’s newly-minted potential voters said that illegal immigrants should be penalised rather than given an easy route to citizenship as most Democrats advocate.
“For a long time, immigration was OK,” said Sarah Wright, 49, a seamstress from Mexico who arrived in the US legally in 1986.
“But now, no more. A lot of really bad people come from Mexico and commit crimes.
“People are coming in and having two, three, four babies and going on welfare. Some are making money here and spending it back in Mexico.
“That’s not right. They should go back to Mexico and get a permit.”
Previously, new citizens could be relied upon to vote Democratic by a ratio of up to 10 to one. But in San Diego this week there were indications that this could be changing.
“I’ve had several people here, Hispanic people, say ‘No, I’m a Republican’,” said Bill De Risa, a Democratic worker eagerly registering voters outside Golden Hall.
His colleague Mary Kennedy said that one woman had told her she wanted to be a Republican because of immigration policy.
“She felt the Democrats were too soft. She wanted higher fences. It’s a very polarising issue.”
Sarah Thomas, 42, a restaurateur originally from Salway Ash, Dorset and one of about two dozen Britons who took US citizenship, said illegal immigrants should be sent home.
“They need to leave and come back legally.
“Just because somebody has been here for 10 years illegally, not paying taxes, does that give them equal rights? No.”
John Pauls, 46, a Canadian-born doctor, said that illegal immigrants were a major burden on the taxpayers who had to foot their health bills and that insecure borders could allow terrorists to come into the US.
“Those that do come into this country illegally are telling us that they are morally and ethically not trustworthy. They should not be here. It’s insulting to those of us who are here legally.”
Welcome to America, oh wise ones! You are, of course, absolutely right.
(And does anyone know if Republicans are setting up registration booths outside these ceremonies, too? If not, they should.)