On Immigration, Redux
June 21, 2014 § 2 Comments
In response to my post on immigration and immigrants, my friends and I got into a discussion on Facebook, comparing the political rhetoric in the US, Canada, and the UK. Certainly, attitudes such as that expressed by my Dallas friend exist in Canada and the UK. And there are similarities and differences between the old Anglo-Atlantic triangle. Canada takes in more immigrants per capita than any other nation in the world (bet you didn’t know that) and the United States takes in more immigrants in absolute numbers than any other nation in the world (bet you did know that). Canada, however, while it does have some undocumented immigrants, does not have the same issues as the United States (which likely has the highest number of undocumented people in it) and the United Kingdom. The UK gets the undocumented through Europe and its former empire, as aspirants sneak into the nation, or overstay their visas (if you want a heartbreaking account of the undocumented in the UK, I point you to Chris Cleave’s Little Bee, or, as it’s called in Cleave’s native UK, The Other Hand).
But. There is one fundamental difference between the three nations. In Canada and the United Kingdom, the political parties that pander to racism and anti-immigration positions (and let’s leave the undocumented out of this for now, ok?) are not in the mainstream. Certainly, these types exist in Canada’s governing Conservative Party, but they are not in the centre of the party, at the cabinet table, etc. And in the UK, there are certainly a few in the governing Conservative Party that express these views, but they are also similarly on the margins, and the odious UKIP party is a fringe movement. Whereas, here in the United States, the Republican Party panders to this mindset. It doesn’t mean, of course, that the GOP does much about to tighten immigration laws when in power, but, it still gives credence to arguments such as my Dallas friend’s. It seeks the vote of the likes of him. So, ultimately, anti-immigration positions are very much nearer the mainstream in the United States than in Canada or the United Kingdom.
It’s one of the fascinating developments of the last forty years that the GOP can represent members of the dominant groups in this country, and still identify itself as a party of oppressed victims. Of course, one reason they can do that is that people who identify with the dominant groups may themselves be in a precarious position.
They also sell a nice bill of goods to the (white) poor, perhaps taking a lesson from the antebellum Democrats, in how to convince the white trash to support the plantation owning oligarchs. I see the GOP doing pretty much the same these days.