In my posting yesterday on the White House immigration proposal that’s expected to be rolled out as soon as this week, I quoted Politico to the effect that a “senior administration official” said “that immigration restrictionists are a ‘pretty fringe’ group that have not ‘been an important part of the president’s base.’” The point of this anonymous comment (which I’ve been given to understand did not come from Kushner) was to dismiss as irrelevant those concerned that the proposal is not expected to include even a token reduction in the level of legal immigration.
This is obvious balderdash, but I neglected to include some very recent polling data that debunks it. The April Harvard Harris poll (no fringe group) asked “Which of the following should be the top priority for President Trump?” and included “Reducing the total amount of immigrants allowed in the United States.” (You’d think Harvard, of all places, would know the distinction between “amount” and “number,” but I digress.) The other nine options were the usual — build the border wall, stimulate jobs, trade deals, infrastructure, repeal Obamacare, tax reform, etc.
(See the full results here — the “top priority” responses are on p. 157 of the PDF, which is numbered on the document as p. 155.)
Even among all registered voters, reducing immigration tied for third place with building the wall, after only “stimulating American jobs” and “passing an infrastructure spending bill.” But among Republicans, conservatives, and Trump voters, reducing immigration was the top priority for one in five, second only (and by just a couple of points) to building the wall, and ahead of all the other, more establishment-oriented priorities like the Iran deal, ISIS, tax reform, infrastructure, ahead even of more populist goals like repealing Obamacare and renegotiating trade deals.
And remember, the percentage of the president’s voters who want reductions in the level of immigration is much higher — this is just the share for whom it is the top priority.
Basically, the two nearly equal pillars of the president’s support among his base are building the wall (i.e., controlling illegal immigration) and curbing legal immigration.
You’d think throwing them a bone and including at least a token, tiny, practically symbolic five percent cut in total legal immigration numbers wouldn’t be too much to ask. Let’s hope they come to their senses before the plan is finalized and presented to the public.