Some interesting political and demographic facts about the Arizona law….
Polls in Arizona:
There has been a great deal of movement along racial lines. In the September poll Goddard had a 3 point lead with white voters, but he now trails Brewer by 8. At the same time he’s increased his lead with Hispanic voters from 20 points to 46. There are a lot more white voters in the state than Hispanic ones so from a cynical, purely political perspective Brewer’s actions last week probably did her some good.
Demographics in Arizona:
Demographically, there is no doubt Latinos and other immigrant minorities are America’s future, and on this, Arizona stands on the front lines. Over the past two decades the state has seen its Latino population grow by 180 percent as its racial composition shifted from 72 to 58 percent white.
Yet there is an important demographic nuance to this growth—providing context to the white backlash in Arizona in ways that could play out else where. It is the fact that the state’s swift Hispanic growth has been concentrated in young adults and children, creating a “cultural generation gap” with largely white baby boomers and older populations, the same demographic that predominates in the recent Tea Party protests. A shorthand measure for this cultural generation gap in a state is the disparity between children and seniors in their white population shares. Arizona leads the nation on this gap at 40 (where 43 percent of its child population is white compared with 83 percent for seniors). But the states of Nevada, California, Texas, New Mexico, and Florida are not that far behind.
Where things are headed in other states:
Last week, Wonk Room reported on the involvement of the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) — the legal arm of a designated nativist-extremist hate group — in drafting Arizona’s controversial immigration law. IRLI lawyer Michael Hethmon boasted about being “approached by lawmakers from four other states who have asked for advice on how they can do the same thing.” In the aftermath of the passage of Arizona’s law, many states and localities across the country are in fact in the middle of or about to embark on copy cat pieces of legislation.
(the post goes on to list ten states where similar legislation is being considered)
Federal legislation is probably the only way to head this off. On the other hand, Republicans will probably filibuster any bill. I think that, for now, they can sustain it if they want to: the emerging Village narrative is that Obama is being a meanie who hurt president Graham’s fee-fees by bringing up the issue and the push-back from the far right against conservatives who don’t like the Arizona law has been ferocious.
“Secure the border first” seems the most likely position for Republicans here and it’s probably viable, if not brilliant, politically, at least for the time being.
But I wonder how long they want to sustain the damage of Republican legislatures alienating Latinos with crazy legislation. Another four or five years of this could be catastrophic to Republican long-term prospects, even if the short-term politics aren’t bad for Republicans. There will be no way they can compete in places like Arizona and Texas in ten years if this keeps up.
Would the right strategy be to rip off the band-aid now by going along with federal immigration reform legislation?