Everything Sucks, I Blame Mexicans
Had Headline of the Day honors not already been awarded, Matt Yglesias would be in strong contention for his post “Everything Sucks, I Blame Mexicans.”
It’s his encapsulation of this chart from a report [PDF] produced by leading Democratic strategists:
Of course, as his commenters point out, “borders left unprotected” is rather vague and could evoke fears of terrorism rather than just illegal immigration. Still, it’s amazing that border control is in the top two concerns of 40 percent, a higher percentage even than the war in Iraq.
It’s likely true that much of this fear is “founded on the inaccurate perception that illegals are hogging up tons of public services and tend to be focused in rural areas where few immigrants live” and is thus irrational. It goes beyond that, though, into the cultural realm, where people get the sense that they’re surrounded by unassimilated people who speak another language. That perception, of course, is much more likely to be felt among those in relatively poor areas, since that’s where most migrant labor lives. Sure, a lot of immigrants flock to the cities and their service economies but many also head to the rural areas for work in the agriculture (such as the Tyson chicken plants) light manufacturing (say, the Dalton, Georgia carpet factories) sectors. That’s an increasing fact of life in rural America.
Those of us who work in the knowledge industry tend to be relatively isolated from the phenomenon or able to benefit from the abundance of cheap labor that immigration, illegal or otherwise, provides. We’re neither part of the same labor pool nor living in the same neighborhoods, thus the fears seem irrational. That’s not true for everyone.