Posted on January 27, 2023

Do Americans Care About Immigration?

Scott Greer, Substack, January 25, 2023

America set a new record last month–and it’s nothing to be proud of. Over 250,000 illegals were encountered at the border in December, the highest number ever recorded. It was the 10th month in a row that illegal encounters had exceeded 200,000. And these figures don’t include the ones who got away from Border Patrol.

This shocking milestone was hardly noticed, even by conservative media. When the news broke Friday evening, it didn’t make the front page of Fox News, Breitbart, Daily Wire, or the Daily Caller. Conservative Twitter ignored the numbers and the issue was soon forgotten. It certainly didn’t register on Capitol Hill, where politicians prepare to battle over the debt ceiling.

Since President Biden took office, over five million illegal aliens have entered the country. Republicans campaigned on the border crisis in the 2022 midterms, hoping that the breakdown of order would propel them to electoral victories. The response? Democrats increased their Senate majority by one seat and Republicans only won a thin majority in the House. If the midterms were a referendum on immigration, the public sent a clear message: it doesn’t care, even in the most affected states such as Arizona.

Compare this to Europe. The migrant crisis of 2015 led to mass protests and a dramatic rise in support for anti-immigration parties, from Brexit to Viktor Orban’s embrace of nationalism. That was in response to just over a million migrants coming to the continent, around a fifth of what the United States has experienced in the past two years.

Why don’t ordinary Americans care about immigration as much as Europeans?

It could be that Americans don’t experience immigration as directly as Europeans. We’re such a big country that many Americans don’t notice when millions of illegals pour into the country. They shield themselves from the consequences by living in the suburbs. Europeans haven’t decided on white flight (yet), so they’re more likely to notice the dramatic changes.

But this doesn’t fully explain the difference, as many illegals and refugees end up in rural towns and suburbs.

The real difference is what white Americans see as the Great Replacement. In Europe, the Great Replacement means immigrants replacing the natives in their own cities. In America, something like that has already happened–but it wasn’t done by immigrants. Integration was America’s Great Replacement. It transformed neighborhoods, schools, and cities in just a few years and caused whites to flee their homes. Americans already experienced that loss of what once was theirs.

Even with our growing diversity, America’s racial dynamic remains black and white. White Americans approach immigration through this lens. Low-skilled immigrants usually don’t replace white workers, they take jobs from blacks. Whites aren’t economically threatened if fruit pickers and fast food workers are now Guatemalan. Whites, in fact, seem to prefer Hispanic labor to black labor. Whenever you hear someone talk about Mexicans doing a much better job than lazy Americans, they may claim those poor workers are good-for-nothing whites. But, whether they know it or not, they’re actually referring to blacks.

In Europe, the non-western arrivals come to live off the welfare state and do not work. While immigrants also come to America to enjoy the state’s generosity, the public doesn’t think that—and it’s more readily apparent to Europeans that the newcomers are just here to live off their tax dollars. When the migrants do get work, they’re not replacing another minority–they take white jobs.

Immigrants to America displacing black communities has also made some cities safer. Los Angeles had its highest murder rates in the early 1990s when its blacks made up over 13 percent of its population. Los Angeles now has a relatively low murder rate when blacks are now 8 percent of its population. Meanwhile, the Hispanic share of the population has gone from just under 30 percent to nearly 50 percent. Even if illegal immigrants are not as law-abiding as the Cato Institute claims, whites see them as less threatening than blacks.

In many European countries, immigrants are responsible for the majority of crime. Sweden was once one of the safest places on Earth. Now, thanks to mass immigration, it’s one of the most violent countries in Europe. Sweden’s murder rate is still far lower than America’s, but Europeans haven’t yet accepted their cities as violent hellscapes. It bothers them that random people can get stabbed walking down the street. Americans have accepted that as part of life. Sweden’s relatively high crime rates made the nationalist Swedish Democrats one of the most popular parties in the country, indicating Swedes connect crime to immigrants. Americans associate crime with either blacks or too many guns.

None of this is to downplay immigration as a threat to America. Immigration drives down wages, erodes our common culture, fosters more atomization, creates low-trust communities, and adds more followers to the Left’s anti-white coalition. But Americans, at the moment, are not as bothered by it as we may hope.

Someone made Americans care enough about immigration in 2016 to elect him president. Donald Trump effectively connected immigration to crime, drug abuse, terrorism, and the deterioration of American communities. He was helped by particular factors at the time. There were high-profile murders involving illegal aliens, such as the Kate Steinle shooting. Americans were more worried about Islamic terrorism and there were a number of jihadi attacks stateside. Europe’s migration crisis also made Americans worry about immigration to this country. Leading Republicans spat on those concerns and demanded more immigrants. Trump made himself stand out with a staunch stance that fueled his course to victory.

But immigration was a non-issue in 2020. Trump didn’t solve mass immigration, of course. But he did make positive gains in the area, such as reducing legal immigration through executive actioncutting refugee numbers to historic lows, and taking tougher action against illegal immigration than past presidents. He even imposed an immigration moratorium in response to COVID. Yet, that all didn’t factor into the presidential election. Hardly anyone remembers the moratorium and Trump didn’t campaign on it. When he tweeted about it during the campaign, his post got low engagement and he never brought it up again. Democrats hardly attacked him for it.

2020 America was different from 2016 America. Islamic terrorism was far from people’s minds. People were more frightened of the maskless than ISIS. BLM riots and the rise in murders made Americans associate crime and disorder with non-immigrant demographics. Immigration no longer had the same salience.

This is not to blackpill readers and persuade them that the masses will never wake up. It’s just to explain why Americans aren’t up in arms over it. Europeans see immigrants as replacing them. Too many Americans just see immigrants as replacing “Lazy Americans.”

Maybe Trump can redo 2016 again for 2024, especially when other candidates want to ignore immigration in favor of flavor of the month issues. Trump, or whoever adopts it as their issue, needs to connect immigration to Americans’ everyday concerns. No more of the bland border security messaging from the midterms. “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” is far more effective. People need to feel immigrants threaten their way of life in order to care about this issue.

Only then will they see immigration as the Great Replacement.