Monday, May 11, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For

Xenophobes must be deliriously unhappy with the news that there are more than a million new American citizens, nearly a third of them in California. After years of lamenting that illegal immigrants have been sucking the life blood from the nation, now they have to worry about the fact that many of those they demonized as blood suckers are now bona fide citizens who are willing and able to vote. From today's Los Angeles Times:

More than 1 million immigrants became U.S. citizens last year, the largest surge in history, hastening the ethnic transformation of California's political landscape with more Latinos and Asians now eligible to vote.

Leading the wave, California's 300,000 new citizens accounted for nearly one-third of the nation's total and represented a near-doubling over 2006, according to a recent report by the U.S. Office of Immigration Statistics. Florida recorded the second-largest group of new citizens, and Texas claimed the fastest growth.

Mexicans, who have traditionally registered low rates of naturalization, represented the largest group, with nearly one-fourth of the total. They were followed by Indians, Filipinos, Chinese, Cubans and Vietnamese.

The new citizens are reshaping California's electorate and are likely to reorder the state's policy priorities, some political analysts predict. Several polls show that Latinos and Asians are more supportive than whites of public investments and broad services, even if they require higher taxes.

In the 2008 election, most of these new voters went for Barack Obama. It is highly likely that many of them will vote Democrat in 2010 as well, thanks to the tantrums of such as Tom Tancredo, Pat Buchanan, and Lou Dobbs. The irony is that these Republican stalwarts used their platforms to complain that the immigrants, legal or not, didn't have any interest in America: they didn't come legally and they refused to participate in the national discourse. Legal entrance or not, these new citizens met the challenge and worked hard to enter that discourse in the best way possible. They earned the right to vote.

And the Republican shrillness won't likely be forgotten any time soon, as even some of that party's more moderate members have recognized:

Those demographic and political trends will continue to marginalize Republicans unless the party makes major changes in its tone and policies toward immigrants, said Allan Hoffenblum, a Republican political consultant in Los Angeles.

"The reason the Republican Party is in such dire straits is its inability to successfully reach out and change its image among Latinos and Asians," he said. "The image is too shrill on immigration. It's an image of an intolerant cult."
[Emphasis added]

That image just happens to be an accurate reflection of what the GOP currently is, sadly. And the image will remain for as long as the Tancredos, Buchanans, and Dobbs continue to spout their racism from media platforms. In the meantime, our new citizens will take their rightful place and, hopefully, continue to exercise their new rights.

Welcome, neighbors!

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