Economy 16-02-2024 06:47 5 Views

In immigration, Republicans see more security worries than economic ones

As he arrived at a Manhattan courthouse Thursday morning, former president Donald Trump once again lamented that he was the target of a criminal indictment in New York City.

“It’s a sad day for New York,” he said. “They really do — look, I love this city and I love this state. They have to focus on violent crime that’s taking place outside. You have a new form of crime now: You have migrant crime.”

He referred to an incident captured on video — and covered extensively on Fox News — in which a group of immigrants scuffled with police officers near Times Square. Trump suggested that this was President Biden’s fault.

This is certainly not a new framing of immigration by Trump. In June 2015, he announced his presidential candidacy about 60 blocks north of that same courthouse, railing against the purported crime that immigrants were bringing into the United States. But it was still a good encapsulation of how much of his party views the increase in immigration into the United States.

New polling from Pew Research Center finds that Republicans are more likely to say that their primary concern about immigration is related to security than to identify concerns about the economy.

In the poll conducted at the end of last month, Pew asked respondents what effect they thought the increase in immigrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border was having on crime. Most respondents said that this was leading to more crime, with more than three-quarters of Republicans holding that view.

There’s no good evidence that this is the case. In New York City, for example, there is no indication of a rash of crime that followed the arrival of more immigrants. In fact, crime in American cities has declined.

Yet, asked about their top concern about the increase in immigrants, Republicans were more likely to point to security issues (36 percent) than economic ones (31 percent).

Breaking out those concerns into subcategories, a plurality of respondents identified the strain on resources from the influx of new residents as a top concern. That included a plurality of Republicans. But the second-most-commonly cited concern was that the increase meant dangerous individuals were coming into the country without detection. Concerns over increasing crime came in right behind.

Among Democrats, a plurality were most concerned about the safety and treatment of the arriving migrants.

The most common reason respondents cited for immigrants seeking to come to the United States was that economic conditions in their home countries were so bad. That was followed closely by a parallel idea: that good economic conditions here were serving to draw migrants north. (This has long been an understood factor in increased immigration.)

The biggest gap between partisans, though, was on the idea that migrants were traveling to the United States in the belief that our immigration policies would make it easy for them to stay. Republicans (and Republican-leaning independents) were 37 points more likely to identify this as a reason for immigrants to come to the United States. In fact, it was the top factor Republicans identified as a major reason for the increase in immigration.

There are probably a few reasons for the partisan divide. One is that it puts the blame for the increase on American policies and, by extension, Biden. Another may be that it reduces the disconnect between immigrants arriving in search of better economic opportunities and then, in the eyes of Republicans, driving up crime.

Perhaps related: The reason with the second-largest partisan gap was the idea that immigrants are coming to flee violence in their home countries. Democrats were 30 points more likely to identify that as a trigger than Republicans.

One of the most telling findings in Pew’s research was that Republicans — and, particularly, conservative Republicans — were most likely to say that they were paying close attention to news about the U.S.-Mexico border.

The cable-news channel that is talking the most about migrants and crime is the one that has the most loyal audience of conservative Republicans: Fox News.

Among those viewers, of course, is Donald Trump.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post
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