by UnHerd
Thursday, 29
April 2021
Chart
07:00

How partisanship shapes attitudes to immigration

The embrace or rejection of migrants is, unsurprisingly, driven by politics
by UnHerd

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. 

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Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago

Immigration must first and foremost benefit the host nation. That was the impetus of early waves of immigration into the US in the 20th century. There also came a point where the spigot was cut off so that newcomers would have time to assimilate and settle into society. Today, people lose their minds if someone says “illegal” immigration as if that’s not a thing.
The right/left thing is intellectual laziness. Plenty of conservatives are children of immigrants. There is nothing inherently wrong or evil with wanting a nation to control its borders. That’s among the defining features of nationhood in the first place. Nor is it too much to expect newcomers to assimilate. Otherwise, you wind up with “over there” being ported to “over here.”
While we’re at it, does anyone ever notice how the same people who tout the benefits of multi-culturalism are also the people who accuse others of cultural appropriation? For the slow kids in the class, appropriation is a feature of multi-culti, not a bug.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

With you on the cultural appropriation thing. And I tout the benefits of multi-culturalism!

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

You are an exception. The “appropriation” charge almost invariably comes from the left, which this article tells me is the pro-immigration side. I find that odd seeing as how my own family immigrated to the US from the old country, and I have zero problem with others doing that legally. Legally.

John Standing
John Standing
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Mass, colonising immigration attacks the existence of the natives of the land. That is how it always goes. So, it is for the natives, including the natives of England, to decide on the question of their own existence. If they desire to hold their land unto themselves, and to pass it on to their own children and not the children of another, that is their right in Nature. No government dictate can morally hold otherwise.

John Standing
John Standing
1 year ago

A native people which accommodates its coloniser will die out. Sensible sons and daughters of that people do not, therefore, welcome immigrants. Deluded and self-estranged ones seem to.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Standing
William Cameron
William Cameron
1 year ago
Reply to  John Standing

That is incoherent . Do you favour increasing or reducing GDP per capita?. What level of public services can the economy provide to a decent standard?. Immigration is not a religion. It is numbers.

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
1 year ago

Do you favour increasing or reducing GDP per capita?. What level of public services can the economy provide to a decent standard?

Not so simple as “more GDP/c = good”. You can maintain a higher standard of life on a lower, reduced GDP per capita / lower level of public services if the demographic structure of society is optimal. You will have lesser expenses in many departments, both on individual and on state level.

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
1 year ago

Also, it doesn’t explain why the no borders extremists were the first to demand shut borders in this outbreak of infection, never having demanded it for any other infection – AIDS, TB,Ebola, Leprosy etc. – while not demanding it even now for the beaches of Kent and Sussex.

Wee Nicola, L’Ardern, Frau M, Welsh Stasiman – all want their borders shut, except that they don’t.

Micheal Lucken
Micheal Lucken
1 year ago

GDP and other financial issues are not the only consideration and for many not the main one. Culture and community, living among people like yourself with similar interests and concerns, people with shared traditions you can easily relate to and socialise with. Not having issues of race and ethnicity as constant background noise invading so many aspects of life for example. Life isn’t just about work and money. Throughout the world more diverse societies tend to be less cohesive and more prone to conflict.

Tom Graham
Tom Graham
1 year ago

It is not so much whether immigration is a good thing, or how much immigration or from where.
The problem is that one of the recent set of nutty beliefs that the Anglo Saxon liberal left has taken on is that having any kind of border control at all is “racist”.

Alex Wilkinson
Alex Wilkinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Tom Graham

Exactly. But that only applies to white countries, of course.

William Cameron
William Cameron
1 year ago

My view is that immigration should be at levels explicitly put to the electorate and agreed by them.
Let me illustrate. Gross immigration i’e; before deduction of people who emigrated from the UK up to March 2020. Source ONS. was 700,000. That is equivalent to Sheffield arriving in one year.
The UK population has gone up 20% in the last 30 years. Did anyone ask the country if that was what they wanted ?
Its important – so consult us. And if you favour immigration explain why it is a good thing and ask us to vote for it .

Alex Wilkinson
Alex Wilkinson
1 year ago

They know we wouldn’t have voted for this. Their hands were tied by a kind of moral conformity narrative – speaking out against it would be too costly for one whose position is dependent on popularity.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago

I left London mid 1970s, and every time I return it is more depressing. My old parts are no longer English, and Not in a better way. WHY? I ask myself every time. WHY?

William Cameron
William Cameron
1 year ago

If Immigration puts up GDP- Politicians will do it.
However if politicians were measured correctly- on GDP per capita _ they would be much more careful about it .

Dave Weeden
Dave Weeden
1 year ago

This is exactly right. I’m largely for immigration that makes the country richer; and I’m also for some “charity immigration” for refugees in dire need (as Asians were under Idi Amin). But, while measuring this is hard (and the next tranche of immigrants will be different to previous ones, so ‘evidence from last time’ will be flawed), Bill Clinton’s “It’s the economy, stupid” should remain the reason for doing almost anything.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  Dave Weeden

The India/Africa diaspora Idi triggered, and Moi and the rest contributed to, brought the Best Migrants to UK since the Huguenots. The 90% of the rest this is NOT true.

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
1 year ago

Immigration is like weather – there’s splendid good weather, horrible bad weather, and everything in between. Symmetrical migration between equals is a force of good – always has been thus. French bakers, Danish engineers, English jockeys, Czech doctors, Japanese carpenters, Flemish weavers, whathaveyou – a mutually beneficial exchange of goods.
The asymmetric migration of workers from the ex-easternbloc post-EU extension is a lot more mixed bag – negative effect on jobs / wages / housing with a fairly small allegedly positive economic effect to counter it, but no negative cultural / societal baggage to speak of.
Immigration from the thirdworld (Africa / muslim world) is an unmitigated disaster with practically zero positive aspects.

Last edited 1 year ago by Johannes Kreisler
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago

EXCEPTING THE INDIA/AFRICA DISAPORA IDI AMIN TRIGGERED, THEY HAVE REALLY ADDED TO BRITAIN.

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
1 year ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Yes indeed. I wasn’t talking about them.

George Bruce
George Bruce
1 year ago

 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. 

You have to be joking.
If the less advantaged groups get annoyed with the white liberals, it is the white liberals who have to run for cover.
Their loveless marriage might break up one day – and in fact I think it will – but rather than not doing anything to displease, I think it should be not doing anything absolutely outrageous.
And as I say, I think their partnership will break up, because there will be outrages.

Alex Wilkinson
Alex Wilkinson
1 year ago

There’s nothing more natural than racial segregation.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
1 year ago

Seems reasonable. I’d take an unfavourable view of someone who benefited from being able to emigrate to a country and then tried to prevent others doing the same thing. Not sure why that would be surprising.

Last edited 1 year ago by Last Jacobin
Fred Bloggs
Fred Bloggs
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

To move away and leave your whole life and family behind you is not trivial by any means. It is often permanent.
Settled immigrants become integrated. They thus take pride in their adopted country’s institutions and history, and have a stake in its future. This means they can lean either way on immigration, just like you or I.
If you were pro-immigration and wanted immigrants to integrate rather than remaining rootless un-citizens forever after, you would understand that.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
1 year ago
Reply to  Fred Bloggs

I do understand that. And I support integration and multi-culturalism. Integration doesn’t mean complete assimilation, though. I think new ideas and cultures keep any society/country healthy and developing.

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

You can be multicultural without allowing every ethnic group indiscriminately into your society. Selectivity is the key. Reject those particular groups who are detrimental to society, embrace the rest.

D Ward
D Ward
1 year ago

Actually I don’t think you should be multi-culti. Why should you be? What’s wrong with aspiring to one culture? Multi-culti doesn’t work

Last edited 1 year ago by D Ward
Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
1 year ago
Reply to  D Ward

Because there are too many things one’s own culture can add to its own. Look at Japan for example and their award-winning whiskies. The whole of Europe owes much of their patisserie to the Italians. Etc. Architectural styles, industrial techniques spread around Europe. The English too have a vast cultural footprint in European culture (and certainly in my small birth-country Hungary, we would be a lot poorer without it). What i was saying is take what’s worth to have, reject what’s not. Say yes to gelato, say no to hijabs. That sort of thing.

Last edited 1 year ago by Johannes Kreisler
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago
Reply to  D Ward

I do not go to Holland to see the Mosques.

D Ward
D Ward
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Why do you think multi-culturalism is a good thing? Surely everyone subscribing to one culture must be the thing to strive for? Because otherwise you have a nation at odds with itself. Why do you want that?

This is not to say you can’t have multi-ethnic. But you definitely cant have multi-culture, no matter how pink and fluffy you think you are.

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
1 year ago
Reply to  D Ward

This is not to say you can’t have multi-ethnic. But you definitely cant have multi-culture

Depends how we define “culture”. To me, Gallic culture is distinctly different from germanic culture, which is distinctly different from Slavic culture, and let’s not even start with the vast differences within northern / southern / eastern Slavic culture etc. etc. Take Switzerland with its distinctly different German, French, Italian and Rhætoromanch cultures – they sure have the odd quips and squabbles, but do get on just fine. Trouble starts when you import a completely incompatible demographic from outside European culture into a European society.

William Cameron
William Cameron
1 year ago
Reply to  Fred Bloggs

Thats not what we are observing in the Uk. Some immigrants do very well. Others seem at odds with the country.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
1 year ago
Reply to  Fred Bloggs

I see the word Integrate vs assimilate. The past US goal has been assimilation, full adoption of the predominant culture, to fit with society. Integration suggests cultural enclaves that stand equal but not in adoption of the predominant social and cultural norms. (Per https://www.immigrationreform.com/). Much fear of immigration is the existing issue of Press 1 for English, etc. Few US people speak any other language, unlike many Europeans. The US values and honors perhaps more diverse cultures than nearly any nation, accepting over 1M immigrants per year through the front door but uncountable through the back. But erosion of the predominate culture is a very real fear if integration happens versus assimilation,

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Depends on the emigrant and the immigration policy and the country involved. Are you only referring to unfettered immigration? It is fact that you cannot logically have an immigration policy which allows immigration to remain unchecked. Given that immigrants favour emigrating to free market democracies, it means that the sums ultimately don’t add up in respect of the quantity of people that can be absorbed and often, supported.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
1 year ago

I meant it’s a totally consistent position to be in broadly in favour of immigration and disapprove of people who are broadly suspicious or wary of immigration (whether those people are immigrants or not actually)

Dave Weeden
Dave Weeden
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

How do you get to this from the article?

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
1 year ago
Reply to  Dave Weeden

From the point that the one of the things the survey was measuring was the views of people broadly in favour of immigration (liberals) on people who immigrated and then pledged support to a party broadly against immigration (Republicans).

Dave Weeden
Dave Weeden
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

If you put that “broadly” to work in the economy, much of the damage from lockdowns would be fixed within weeks.

Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
1 year ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

I’d take an unfavourable view of someone who benefited from being able to emigrate to a country and then tried to prevent others doing the same thing. 

Do you think “immigrant” is a separate species or something? Do you think there’s some shared commonality or equivalence between, say, a French physicist and an Ugandan illiterate who both emigrated to the USA? Because both are “immigrants”? Well, both are humans / mammals / vertebrates too, where do you draw the line? Why should a Danish engineer living in the USA be in favour of mass-immigration from, say, Pakistan?
Someone who benefits from being able to emigrate to a country should be someone who benefits the country he/she emigrated to. That’s why immigration policies need to be selective, not indiscriminate.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
1 year ago

I moved to USA as a completely useless rebellious young man – and I am against immigration of any who cannot demonstrate their potential to be a positive addition.