Progressive Indictment | Everyone Wants Immigration Reform—Except The Rich, But They Run Politics (For Now)

[Recently by Randall Burns: Editor At Christian Science Monitor Opposes Cure For Illegal Aliens]

VDARE.COM readers have seen repeatedly that there is a big gap between how political leaders vote on immigration—and what the public wants.

But how does this gap differ among ethnic various groups?

Recently, a reader forwarded me this article and another from the website MajorityRights.com using Americans for Better Immigration [ABI]'s grading system to demonstrate that Congressmen of different ethnicities voted significantly differently on immigration:

 

  White Jews Hispanics Blacks
A 51      
B 120 1 2 1
C 61      
D 59 9 1 13
F 48 14 21 26
Total 339 24 24 40

Grades from Americans for Better Immigration

Now, the some of the folks at MajorityRights were using this to suggest that "the problem" with US immigration policy is that specific ethnic groups were voting differently than whites (that is, non-Jewish whites) were. 

And there is indeed clearly a substantial systematic difference in how Black, Jewish and Hispanic congressmen vote on immigration compared to how White congressmen vote.

Still, is this really a reflection of how Black, Jewish and Hispanic voters in fact feel?  

Polls cited by the Center for Immigration Studies show there is a real systematic difference between elite and popular opinion on immigration.  And poll data from FAIR breaks out this elite-popular division by ethnicity:

Answer to FAIR's question: Do you want less immigration?

  Whites Jews Hispanics Blacks
People 84% 49% 42% 44%
Political* Leaders 50% 4% 8% 2%
Ratio .59 .08 .19 .045

*Grades B or A were taken as indicative of wanting less immigration-this may be an overly generous assumption.

What these polls suggest is that Black, Hispanic and Jewish congressmen are even more different from Black, Hispanic and Jewish voters than white congressmen are from white voters.

Who, then, are those congressmen representing—if not the voters?

Recently a colleague and I created a tool that measures the average Americans for Better Immigration voting record of the politicians to whom any specific individual donates—using the records available at open secrets.org.

My colleague is an H-1b casualty who needed help with his rent that month. The project cost a tiny fraction what any H-1b intensive shop would have charged.

One of the first things we used this tool for was to see how the congressional recipients of donations from the 20 richest Americans in 2001 voted on immigration issues.

Rank           

        Name                             

Net worth

(millons)

Age     

ABI grade of donation Recipients

1

Gates, William H. III            

54,000             

45

47.77

2

Buffett, Warren Edward     

33,200              

71

31

3

Allen, Paul Gardner              

28,200              

48       

28.25

4

Ellison, Lawrence Joseph     

21,900            

57

38

5

Walton, Alice L.                    

17,500              

52       

62

5

Walton, Helen R.                   

17,500            

82  

66.91

5

Walton, Jim C.                      

17,500            

53  

66.81

5

Walton, John T.                     

17,500            

55   

77.61

9

Walton, S. Robson               

17,500            

57  

62.1

10

Ballmer, Steven Anthony       

15,100            

45

42.19

11

Anthony, Barbara Cox           

11,300            

78   

33.86

11

Chambers, Anne Cox            

11,300            

81

40.09

13

Kluge, John Werner             

10,600            

87   

27.68

14

Redstone, Sumner M.           

10,100

78

28.43

15

Dell, Michael                          

9,800               

36  

63.2

16

Anschutz, Philip F.                 

9,600               

61        

60

17

Johnson, Abigail                    

9,100               

39        

66.3

18

Mars, Forrest Edward Jr.       

9,000               

70        

31

18

Mars, Jacqueline Badger      

9,000               

62

31

20

Mars, John Franklyn              

9,000               

65

----

21

Murdoch, Keith Rupert          

7,500               

70

44

22

Ergen, Charles                     

7,100               

48

40.9

23

Soros, George                       

6,900               

71

33.41

24

Bronfman, Edgar M. Sr.      

6,800               

72

41.33

25

Turner, Robert E. (Ted)     

6,200        

62

22

Of course, these donations are fairly small. But they do give some idea how attitudes of the very rich differ from the attitudes of the general public:

The average ABI rating of a congressional recipient of funds from one of the twenty richest Americans is 45.6. The congressional ABI average is 50.

In other words, the rich systematically favor politicians who are pro-immigration—even by the standards of an immigration-friendly Congress. (Even an ABI rating of 75 is arguably not really going to accomplish the goal of less overall immigration that is desired by the average American.merican.)

My conclusion: the voting behavior of Congress on immigration issues is much closer to the donation behavior of the very wealthy than it is to the wishes of the voters.

(In future research, I hope to deal with how the process of buying immigration policy really works. Preliminary results suggest that corporate CEOs are even more pro-open borders.)

All of this raises serious questions about the integrity of the U.S. Republic. The Founding Fathers expected that established interests would get some special representation. But the present absurd situation is practically government by auction.

But why are minority elected officials especially prone to the blandishments of the rich? I doubt this reflects any kind of personal failing. After all, minority participation in the US political process is a fairly recent phenomenon. Perhaps there is some kind of collective "learning curve" among communities new to democracy as to how to pick representatives who truly represent them.

Another possible explanation: minorities tend to live in urban areas with less-established political communities—and it is more expensive to run a race in such an area.

American progressives, of whom I consider myself one, have had suggestions for some time that address the problem of representational distortion:

  1. Take the money out of politics and move towards publicly-funded elections
  2. Move the U.S. towards proportional representation (particularly a system like STV that would tend to take power away from party leaders).
  3. Contain the influence of major media monopolies.

Support by conservatives (i.e. probably most VDARE.COM readers) could move these measures closer to reality.

Candidates like George Bush and John Kerry would both find themselves at a disadvantage under these kinds of election rules. The stock of insurgents left and right, like Dennis Kucinich and Pat Buchanan alike, would rise.

Some might argue this would be a polarization of America. But in fact major issues like trade, the war in Iraq and immigration could be taken care of by simply getting Congress to better represent Americans.

If we heard more from leaders like Barbara Jordan and A. Philip Randolph, these would not exactly be conservative votes. But they might be more genuine voices.

The UK elections are a real life example in that shows how election reform would work:

  EU 2004 General 2005 Seats 2005
Conservatives   26.7               32.3         30.5
Labour 22.6               35.2         55.2
UKIP 16.1                   2.3         0
Lib-Dem           14.9                 22.0         9.6
Greens 6.3                   1.0 0
BNP 4.9                   0.7 0

In other words, the Conservatives, UKIP and BNP all endorsed lower immigration levels. Together they got 47.7% of the popular vote in the EU election—which was conducted using Party List Proportional Representation.

And if you included some of the smaller parties like the Ulster Unionists and English Democrats, there would be enough support to make that a majority position. 

But in the UK General Election, changes in the voting rules caused voters to move towards larger parties—and away from support to restrict immigration.

The U.K. example makes clear: Thus there is every reason to expect that better representation would mean more sensible immigration policy.

What conservatives need to learn: The catastrophe of recent immigration policy was made possible by centralization of wealth and political power.

To address the issue of immigration, we must also address those other issues—even if means substantial changes to our political system.

Randall Burns [email him] holds a degree in Economics from the University of Chicago.  He works in the information technology sector and is a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University.  Burns has been active in furthering the introduction of immigration, trade, and tax realities into the progressive agenda. In 2004, he helped create the Kucinich campaign's position paper on H-1b/L-1 visas.