Can immigration finally work for Republicans as a wedge issue?

Republicans have repeatedly returned to immigration as a wedge issue, to appeal to and bring over a some Democrats.  This has been Trump’s desire from the minute he stepped off the elevator. There is no state that I know in which an anti-immigration movement, and specifically an anti -unauthorized person movement, has had a lasting impact by swinging politics in the direction of Republicans absent other major issues (but I could be wrong).

The reality is the the great majority of Americans don’t care that much about immigration, and extremely few care enough to vote for the other party (as opposed for example to abortion).

My question now is whether House Republicans can effect what Trump so much wanted in 2020, which was to make immigration so big an issue that it will swing voters his way to win in November. Here is some polling figures from December that the Republicans have an uphill fight; that they are in effect doubling down on their appeal to their base rather than moving the electorate at large; that the electorate wants a bipartisan rather than a partisan solution. Yet House Republicans are exultatingly branding their immigration policy as hyper-partisan combat.

California Proposition 187 barred unauthorized persons from certain public services. It passed, 59% to 41%, in 1994, but was gutted by court decisions. A lasting impact was that Latinos were turned off by the Republican Party, immigrant advocacy grew, and the Republican Party ever since has held no more than one third of the seats in the state’s Senate.

In the mid 2000s, many localities across the U.S. tried to pass laws barring landlords from renting to unauthorized persons.  These measures were blocked by law and eventually the movement was dead by 2011.

YouGov polled Americans in early December poll of Americans on a wide range of issues, including immigration. Opinion polls about preferences in immigration, for example whether to increase or decrease the number of persons granted asylum, are, in my opinion, so conjectural and based on so little shared facts as to be close to worthless.

Happily, the pollsters asked people a question the responses to which I believe can be relied on. The question was about a preference for a bipartisan deal involving national security and immigration. How much does the public want a deal a key attribute of which is that it is bipartisan? It appears, a lot. This is the opposite of the House’s expressly partisan strategy.

The question is “Congress is considering a bipartisan deal that would pair aid to  Ukraine and Israel with border security funding and stricter asylum standards for entering the United States. Do you support or oppose this deal.”

On this question 16% of respondents said they don’t know how to decide; 19% of those with less than college education said they do not know. There is pretty strong support for a bipartisan deal. For example, 58% of Republicans strongly support or somewhat support a bipartisan deal. 46% of Democrats strongly support or somewhat support a bipartisan deal. Union households are particularly in favor of a bipartisan deal – 59%.

When you remove the people who say they don’t know you find a surprising result — that over 65% of Republicans want a bipartisan deal while only about 55% of Democrats want one.

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