President Donald Trump may ultimately be a unifying force on one of the most divisive issues in U.S. politics: immigration.
That’s not Trump’s intent, of course. Having launched his presidential campaign in 2015 with a demagogic assault on immigrants, Trump has been a reliable fount of calumny ever since. His policies, from brutalizing children at the border — a 7-year-old girl died in U.S. custody last week — to terminating Temporary Protected Status for refugees, appear designed to convince his MAGAnauts that he can, and somehow will, forestall the further browning of America.
In public opinion, immigration is an imperfect substitute for “race.” However, Trump has succeeded in making it a more meaningful one. As numerous political science analyses have determined, Trump’s racial animus is the sticky goo that binds him to his most enthusiastic followers. That goo may be a potent political force, but it’s not a boundless one. Trump appears to have found its limits.
The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll has been asking survey respondents since 2005 whether “immigration helps the United States more than it hurts it.” In December 2005, 37 percent said immigration helps more, while 53 percent said it hurts.
That anti-immigrant sentiment, regularly measured by the poll, largely prevailed until 2012, when opinions started gradually to shift. In the most recent poll, taken in September, the pro-immigration “helps” line reached a peak of 61 while the anti-immigration “hurts” side hit a new low at 28. Measured from December 2005 until September 2018, there is a 49-point swing in favor of immigration “helps.” [Continue reading…]