A True Conversation on the Political Externalities of Immigration
By Bryan Caplan
Will immigrants from dysfunctional countries move to the West, become citizens, then vote to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs? I’ve addressed this common fear before – see here, here, and here for starters. But recently, I discussed the issue with an angry Republican. Our conversation went something like this:
Angry Republican: And what’s worse, these Mexican immigrants are coming here and voting! And who do you think they vote for? The Democrats.
Me: Maybe Hispanics vote Democratic because Republicans are such jerks to them.
AR: No, they vote Democratic because the Democrats give them unlimited welfare!
Me: Bush managed to get a pretty high share of the Hispanic vote.
AR: Yea, by being weak on border control!
Me: If that’s all Republicans have to do to win Hispanics over, what’s the problem? By your own account, Hispanic voters will stop being your enemies if you stop treating them like your enemies.
AR: Rrrr. Immigrants.
I know that this dialog seems like a cheap shot. When I give a public lecture or write an essay about immigration, I try to argue against the most reasonable opponents of immigration I can imagine. But this rhetorical technique has a serious downside: If you’re not careful, you might forget the fact that most opponents of immigration are as unreasonable as my Angry Republican.