Are Latino Immigrants More Anti-Economic Freedom than Native Whites?
By David Henderson
One argument made by many opponents of substantially increasing immigration–and it is one of the few that I have found somewhat persuasive–is that immigrants do not understand the value of economic freedom and will vote away the economic system that made this country such an attractive place to move to. I noticed this in my native Canada, although my evidence was anecdotal. I talked to a number of Brits in the late 1960s who had moved to Canada for economic opportunity and wanted the Canadian governments to adopt the same policies that had helped lead to the results that they were emigrating from.
It’s an empirical issue. But one big piece of evidence against the hypothesis happened last week. And it happened with a population that a number of immigration skeptics and outright opponents have worried most about: Latinos.
The setting: Governor Jerry Brown was supporting a bill that had sailed through the California Senate to give a government agency power to drastically reduce the amount of gasoline used. That would have meant rationing or higher prices or both. The Democrats have large majorities in both the Senate and the Assembly and so the only hope for stopping the bill in the Assembly was for a number of Democratic Assembly members to vote with Republicans to stop the bill. And that is what happened. And were these members mainly representatives of upper-income largely white districts?
No, they weren’t. Here’s the Wall Street Journal editorial page with the relevant facts:
But now his [Jerry Brown’s] party has mutinied. Democrats hold near supermajorities in both legislative chambers with 52 of 80 seats in the Assembly. Yet this week 21 Democratic Assembly members representing middle- and low-income communities–including 11 blacks and Latinos–joined Republicans to kill a bill mandating a cut in state greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.
Democrats also forced Mr. Brown to scrap a measure that would have given the California Air Resources Board plenary authority to reduce statewide oil consumption in vehicles by half by 2030. Imagine the EPA without the accountability. “One of the implications probably would have been higher gas prices,” noted Democratic Assemblyman Jim Cooper. “Who does it impact the most? The middle class and low-income folks.”