Motivating Factors Behind Anti-Immigration Sentiments

After taking a couple of weeks off from blogging, my buddy, Mark of Publius Endures, has come back into the swing of things in grand fashion.  In one post in particular, he proves that he hasn’t dulled any during his absence, going to the heart of the illegal immigration debate in this country.

After doing some number crunching, and pretty solid analysis, Mark comes up with some conclusions that will surprise some, confirm the suspicions of others, and will likely be rejected by those whom the analysis seems specifically targeted for.

The most interesting point he makes is that the highest anti-immigrant sentiments seem to be housed in those states with the actual lowest populations of illegal immigrants.  States like California and Texas where one would expect that the “Illegals take American jobs,” meme to hold the most water seem to be more accepting of illegal immigrants, whereas states like New Hampshire, where there is an almost totally homogenous population, tend to be the most strict within the conservative ranks.

Nor are these trends necessarily split down purely ideological lines, as he further points out in the disparity between the conservativism of Texas and New Hampshire.

The conclusion he draws from this data seems natural and logical enough.  Lacking first hand experience in a population, job market, etc. that includes illegal immigrants, those who choose to be the most against illegal immigrants are likely to do so largely on nativist grounds.  I would add that without first hand knowledge, there may be another factor at play.

With ignorance comes the potential to be filled with knowledge.  In general, someone can learn about illegal immigration from first hand experience, or they can learn it from what they are told.  Barring direct experience, conservatives are likely to be molded by their inputs of opinion, in other words, some conservative in New Hampshire who has never met an illegal immigrant in his life is having his world view molded and cultivated by Rush Limbaugh, Lou Dobbs, Michelle Malkin, etc.

Without arguments to the contrary, and taking opinion peddlers such as these and more at face value, there’s no wonder why these folks would be calling for deportation on such a high level.

But I’m going to end my own opinion here and defer the rest to my friend who really has done some excellent analysis on the subject.

4 Responses to “Motivating Factors Behind Anti-Immigration Sentiments”

  1. TLB says:

    Thanks for the laugh, and there’s certainly some fine methodology used at the link, switching between various kinds of immigrants and failing to take things such as millions of Americans fleeing CA due in part to unchecked II. This post assumes that support for illegal activity is a liberal thing, opposition to massive illegal activity is motivated by racism and the like, and it also engages in the LogicalFallacy of GuiltByAssociation.

    There’s a brain in the upper left of this page, please try and use it next time.

  2. DrGail says:

    The post raises a very good point, and one that is well-supported by research, I might add.

    Prejudice and stereotyping, which are simply a broader and less specific form of Nativism, are based on lack of specific and personal knowledge of the subject. This is true even for value-neutral items. For example, it is much easier for me to conjure up a mental picture of a generic “bug” than it would be for an entymologist, who has expertise with all sorts of bugs.

    Based on this, it follows that people with limited experience of immigrants — legal or not — would be more likely to stereotype them than people who live and work around immigrants all the time. (This basic argument also underlies mainstreaming handicapped children into regular public school classes, summer camps that bring Israeli and Palestinian children together, and so on.)

  3. Pete Murphy says:

    Rampant population growth threatens our economy and quality of life. Immigration, both legal and illegal, are fueling this growth.

    I’m not talking just about the obvious problems that we see in the news – growing dependence on foreign oil, carbon emissions, resource shortages, soaring commodity prices, etc. I’m talking about the effect upon rising unemployment and poverty in America.

    I should introduce myself. I am the author of a book titled “Five Short Blasts: A New Economic Theory Exposes The Fatal Flaw in Globalization and Its Consequences for America.” To make a long story short, my theory is that, as population density rises beyond some optimum level, per capita consumption of products begins to decline out of the need to conserve space. People who live in crowded conditions simply don’t have enough space to use and store many products. This declining per capita consumption, in the face of rising productivity (per capita output, which always rises), inevitably yields rising unemployment and poverty.

    This theory has huge implications for U.S. policy toward population management, especially immigration policy. Our policies of encouraging high rates of immigration are rooted in the belief of economists that population growth is a good thing, fueling economic growth. Through most of human history, the interests of the common good and business (corporations) were both well-served by continuing population growth. For the common good, we needed more workers to man our factories, producing the goods needed for a high standard of living. This population growth translated into sales volume growth for corporations. Both were happy.

    But, once an optimum population density is breached, their interests diverge. It is in the best interest of the common good to stabilize the population, avoiding an erosion of our quality of life through high unemployment and poverty. However, it is still in the interest of corporations to fuel population growth because, even though per capita consumption goes into decline, total consumption still increases. We now find ourselves in the position of having corporations and economists influencing public policy in a direction that is not in the best interest of the common good.

    The U.N. ranks the U.S. with eight other countries – India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Uganda, Ethiopia and China – as accounting for fully half of the world’s population growth by 2050. The U.S. is the only developed country still experiencing third world-like population growth, most of which is due to immigration. It’s absolutely imperative that our population be stabilized, and that’s impossible without dramatically reining in immigration, both legal and illegal.

    If you’re interested in learning more about this important new economic theory, I invite you to visit my web site at where you can read the preface for free, join in my blog discussion and, of course, purchase the book if you like. (It’s also available at

    Please forgive the somewhat “spammish” nature of the previous paragraph. I just don’t know how else to inject this new perspective into the immigration debate without drawing attention to the book that explains the theory.

    Thanks for hearing an opposing viewpoint.

    Pete Murphy
    Author, Five Short Blasts

  4. Mark says:

    While I appreciate Mr. Murphy’s viewpoint, it appears to just be Malthus redux. Although I realize Malthus still has some adherents on the left, it is a theory that has been utterly and completely debunked. The fact is that free humans in a free market have a remarkable capacity to adapt to changing circumstances. For instance, we currently produce an absurdly high amount of agriculture, with American agricultural output peaking recently at a time when the amount of farmland in the US was declining just as rapidly. While recent agricultural output has begun to decline, there are a number of reasons for this, most of which have to do with perverse incentives created by our government.

    In addition, it’s worth pointing out that the US is one of the least-densely populated First World nations, with I believe only Australia and Canada ahead of us.

    The fact remains that immigrants are rational actors who move where the jobs are. Immigrants to the US usually do not go to Detroit or Cleveland, but instead go to economic boomtowns where unemployment is exceedingly low.

    If the US economy begins to go in the tank, it will result in fewer immigrants entering the US. Similarly, if Third World economies begin to stabilize (in part because enough immigrants have left to allow sufficient opportunities within the Third World), then fewer immigrants will leave from those countries. It is no coincidence that the current wave of immigration has roughly tracked with the growth of the US economy. This is essentially what happened in earlier waves of immigration.

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