April 29, 2021 - 7:00am

Left-wingers are much more likely to be pro-immigration than Right-wingers, right?

There are exceptions, of course, but as a general pattern it holds up pretty well across the Western world.  

While very few people take an absolute position — i.e. favouring either completely open borders or completely closed ones — it’s pretty much the case that Left equals loose on immigration controls and Right equals tight.

Why would that be? 

Predictably, the Left accuses the Right of racism, while the Right accuses the Left of recklessness. However, at least some of the Left-Right split on this issue isn’t actually about immigration specifically; rather, it’s about the Left-Right split in general. 

The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank in the US. As part of its latest Immigration and Identity National Survey, Americans were asked how they felt towards two categories of immigrant — those who register to vote as Democrats and those who register to vote as Republicans. 

As can be seen in the chart above, Americans — whether liberal (i.e. Left-leaning) or conservative (i.e. Right-leaning) are much more positive about immigrants who happen to share their political views.

Though liberals are more positive than conservatives are about immigration in general, the position is reversed when it comes to Republican-voting migrants. 

This probably tells us a lot more about the polarisation of American politics than it does about resolving the dilemmas of immigration policy. 

As for the wider culture war currently ripping the country apart, there’s a hint here that the rainbow coalition that unites wealthy white liberals with less advantaged groups rather depends on the latter not doing anything to displease the former.