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Commentary By Heather Mac Donald

The GOP's Track Record on Illegal Immigration

Economics Immigration

America’s Republican elites are as stunned by Donald Trump’s conquest of the White House as the Democrats and the press. They shouldn’t be, since they created the conditions that led to Trump’s improbable victory.

For decades the Republican establishment suppressed debate about the costs of mass low-skilled immigration. Anyone who questioned the wisdom of America’s de facto open borders policy was silenced with charges of xenophobia or simply ignored. Immigration was said to be an unalloyed good, without distinction as to whether the immigrants were educated or barely literate, legal or illegal.

“Voters were willing to overlook his failings because he voiced their concerns on immigration”

However, residents of areas with large numbers of low-skilled immigrants were experiencing a different reality exemplified by California, the state most transformed by mass immigration. A majority of babies born there are now Hispanic, and Hispanic people are the largest population group, having expanded their numbers sixfold since 1970. The result has been plummeting educational levels and expanding welfare costs.

In the 1950s and 1960s California led the country in educational achievement; today, the percentage of students lacking the most rudimentary maths and reading skills matches those in poor southern states such as Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. California redistributes millions of local taxpayer dollars to schools with large numbers of English learners and low-income pupils to no apparent effect.

Since 2000 more college graduates have left California than entered it, thanks in large part to the high taxes needed to sustain the state’s spending on the poor, a population consisting overwhelmingly of low-skilled immigrants and their progeny.

The poverty gap between low-skilled immigrants and the native-born persists into at least the third generation of immigrants, both in California and in the rest of the country. US-born Hispanic households in the Golden State consume welfare payments, food stamps and housing assistance at twice the rate of US-born non-Hispanic households.

Although many low-skilled immigrants possess an admirable work ethic...

Read the entire piece here at The Sunday Times (paywall)


Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith fellow at the Manhattan Institute, contributing editor at City Journal, and the author of The War on Cops.

This piece originally appeared in The Sunday Times