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The Bush administration has read the political tea leaves that this year’s election left at the bottom of the electoral cup and concluded that amnesty for illegal aliens is the message they send.
Since that was the message the administration wanted to see, it’s not surprising that’s the message it gets.
But its tea-leaf readers need to look again to understand the election’s real message on immigration politics.
The administration apparently has embraced the increasingly dubious exit polls that show President Bush winning 44 percent of the Hispanic vote nationally, an increase of some 9 percent for him since 2000. Mr. Bush pandered to Hispanics shamelessly and concocted a “temporary workers visa program” that is tantamount to amnesty for illegal aliens; therefore, he won Hispanic votes.
Therefore again, he and his courtiers reason, the way to lock Hispanics into the Republican column is to keep on pandering, and that is why, no sooner was the election over, the administration announced it would revive the amnesty plan.
As political analyst Steve Sailer has argued on VDARE.COM, there are strong reasons to doubt that Mr. Bush really did win 44 percent of the Hispanic vote nationally, and as I have argued myself, even if he did win that much, there is absolutely no reason to think it was because of what the president said or did about immigration or amnesty.
But there’s no reason either to rehearse those arguments again. What’s important is to look at the election returns as they do relate to immigration and related issues.
In Arizona, Proposition 200 passed overwhelmingly with 56 percent of the vote. Prop 200, denounced by the Open Borders lobby, condemned by both Arizona’s senators (Republican), its governor (Democrat), its congressional delegation (mostly Republican but two Democrats), and its Chamber of Commerce (any party it can buy), requires proof of eligibility to receive state benefits or to vote.
The real purpose of Prop 200, of course, was to stop illegal aliens, who lack such proof, from getting welfare and from voting. What sounds like an oatmealish and meaningless ritual in fact contained a powerful message against illegal immigration: You (illegals) are not part of our nation and are not entitled to receive the benefits and privileges Americans are entitled to receive. Go home.
Prop 200 won the support of 47 percent of the state’s Hispanic citizens.
What that exit poll tells us is that pandering to Hispanics on immigration and related issues is not necessarily the way to win their support. Every opinion poll on immigration for the last generation or so has shown that Hispanics oppose mass immigration almost as strongly as non-Hispanics do. Why shouldn’t they? As the Third World ships sink, why should those who make it to the lifeboats welcome everybody else on board?
As for political figures closely associated with restricting immigration, nobody can beat Colorado’s Rep. Tom Tancredo, who has made immigration reform and restriction his signature issue. So hostile was the Bush White House to Mr. Tancredo that Karl Rove reportedly told him he was not welcome there.
This month Mr. Tancredo won re-election by a whopping 60 percent or more—against a heavily funded Democratic opponent.
Mr. Bush, it might be noted, won Colorado by a not-so-whopping 52 percent of the vote. It’s not Mr. Tancredo who shouldn’t be welcome in the White House. It’s Mr. Bush who shouldn’t be welcome in Mr. Tancredo’s district.
What these two sets of exit polls from Arizona and Colorado tell us is not what the tea leaves Mr. Bush is reading say. What these returns tell us is that supporting restrictions on mass immigration not only is not political suicide but in fact is a road to political resurrection.
That’s the same message California sent ten years ago in passing Proposition 187, a measure similar in concept to Prop 200, which passed with some 60 percent of the vote, won House seats for five Republican congressmen, and pulled Republican Gov. Pete Wilson from his political grave.
Nothing has changed since then, including the bottomless capacity of pro-immigration forces to delude themselves and many political leaders that supporting immigration control is politically harmful.
However many Hispanic votes Mr. Bush won this year, he would be well advised not to see in them a message that pro-immigration politics and pro-amnesty proposals are what American voters, including Hispanics, want.
The clear message from this year’s election, in so far as immigration and closely related matters were issues anywhere, is that they don’t want that. What they want is for their government to protect their borders and their nation from the immigration invasion it is experiencing.
Regardless of what the polls really tell us, there’s no reason the government cannot and should not deliver that.