If you believe the Bushies and their ilk, every immigrant (and every Hispanic, which these guys think are the same thing) has a traditionalist Republican inside him just trying to get out. And it’s true that on some issues, like same-sex marriage, immigrants are probably more conservative than the native-born. For instance, 53 percent of Hispanic voters, both native-born and foreign-born, supported California’s Proposition 8.
But in any forum other than direct popular vote, culturally conservative views just don’t matter very much because, especially in our modern politics, immigrant (and Hispanic) elites serve as the interlocutor with the broader society and Hispanic elites and institutions are lopsidedly left-wing. (Blacks, likewise, are more pro-life than whites, but virtually all those who claim to speak for them are not.) Here’s an illustration from today’s WaPo:
Gay and lesbian advocates teamed up with Maryland’s largest Latino and immigrant rights group on Tuesday, hoping to build support for two November ballot questions: one to allow same-sex marriage and another offering in-state tuition for illegal immigrants who have attended a Maryland high school and whose parents have paid taxes.
The group in question is CASA de Maryland, described last year by Accuracy in Media as “The Illegals’ ACORN.” It’s a lavishly funded open-borders group headed by Gustavo Torres, a Colombian Communist who worked at a Sandinista newspaper in Nicaragua until shortly after their defeat in 1990, after which he moved to the U.S. I’d venture to guess that the ordinary blue-collar people who make up CASA’s clientele are just as supportive of traditional marriage as you are, but whatever interaction they have with our political system is through the intercession of radicals like Torres (and his counterparts elsewhere, like Jerry Gonzalez in Georgia or U.S. Representative Luis Gutierrez from Chicago or the group Centro Presente in Boston).
Backing amnesty and opening the borders is not going to change this — that’s the path of me-too Republicanism that’s proved so very successful elsewhere. Instead, only by reducing future immigration can the intermediary role of leftist elites become less important. Immigrant communities would become more Americanized as fresh infusions from abroad are reduced; immigrants already here will enjoy higher wages as the blue-collar labor market tightens; their grasp of English will improve with time. All these changes will make it more possible for newcomers and their children to mature politically from clients to citizens, and not just citizens on paper but in their hearts. And while the Democratic party is always going to be the Client party, the GOP has a good shot at getting the votes of fully engaged citizens.