Thursday, February 14, 2013
The Windfall of Immigration Reform
The Democrats have demographic dreams. Liberals are counting on population and voting trends to doom Republicans to minority status that will last for a long time. This expectation is at the heart of the debates in Congress about immigration. Democrats believe that they will be on the winning side in future elections. The first election of Barack Obama set the trend. His landslide reelection confirms the change in voting patterns. The white Americans who tend to vote Republican are shrinking as a percentage of the population while those who lean Democratic are growing rapidly, especially younger voters, Black, Hispanic, and Asian. By 2050, US population is expected to increase by 117 million and the vast majority will be immigrants or the children of immigrants especially Latinos, Asian Americans, and African-Americans who will rise to nearly a third of all Americans. Hispanic immigration in the Southwest and the historic black population will be the biggest factors meeting the needs of the US economy. Expanded education and economic opportunity will help the Latinos move into the mainstream of American life. Their mutual bonds will lead them to bond with the political party that identifies with their concerns. However, right now, the GOP Tea Party seems less likely to consider comprehensive immigration reform and to promote affirmative action. For the GOP to have a serious chance to win over the Latino population and other voting blocs, it will require serious changes in their political, economic and immigration policies. It may be very difficult to obtain support from Middle Western whites for new policies. Restrictive policies passed by the Republicans and states like Arizona and Alabama are the most obvious negative examples. But a move away from draconian immigration policies and belligerence could make Latinos a contested demographic bloc and give the GOP an outside chance to shatter the Democratic dominance. It might even lead to a one party state dominated by a bureaucracy with sufficient political skills to satisfy the status quo while leaving room for the growth and development of all groups. Open immigration policies could be the first step followed by other economic windfalls: simplification of the current visa system, greater investment in employee training by business, temporary work visas should be minimized in favor of permanent status, scientists and engineers and innovators would be favored as the main drivers of productivity.