PHOENIX ( Associated Press) — At a time when anti-immigration rhetoric is running rampant as this year’s midterm elections in the United States approach, roughly 1 in 3 adults believe attempts are being made to replace native-born Americans. the country by immigrants in order to obtain electoral benefits.
About 3 in 10 also worry that increased immigration is causing native-born Americans to lose their economic, political and cultural clout, according to a survey by the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and The Associated Press. Republicans are more likely than Democrats to fear a loss of influence because of immigration, 36% vs. 27%.
Those views reflect growing anti-immigrant sentiment exposed on social media and cable TV, with some conservative commentators like Tucker Carlson exploiting fears that newcomers could harm native-born citizens.
In their most extreme manifestation, these increasingly public views in the United States and Europe are based on a decades-old conspiracy theory called the “great replacement,” a false claim that native-born populations country are being overtaken by non-white immigrants who are eroding, and will eventually erase, their culture and values. The term, once taboo, has become the mantra of Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate who lost in the recent French presidential election.
“I firmly believe that Democrats — from Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi and down — want to bring in illegal immigrants and give them the right to vote immediately,” said Sally Gansz, 80. In reality, only US citizens can vote in state and federal elections, and getting naturalized often takes years.
Gansz, a white Republican, has lived her entire life in Trinidad, Colorado, where about half the population of 8,300 says they are Hispanic, most with roots dating back centuries to Spanish settlers in the region.
“Isn’t it obvious I watch Fox?” joked Gansz, who said he watches the conservative channel almost daily, including Fox News Channel’s top-rated show “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” a leading proponent of those ideas.
“Demographic change is the key to the Democratic Party’s political ambitions,” Carlson said on the show last year. “In order to gain and maintain power, the Democrats plan to change the population of the country.”
Those views are not held by most Americans. In fact, two-thirds believe that the diversity of the country’s population makes America stronger, and far more favor than oppose a path to legalization for immigrants brought to the nation illegally as children. . But the deep concerns expressed by some Americans help explain how the issue energizes those who oppose immigration.
“I don’t feel like immigration really affects me or undermines American values,” said Daniel Valdes, 43, a registered Democrat who works in finance for an aircraft company on Florida’s Space Coast. “I’m pretty indifferent to all of this.”
Valdes’ maternal grandparents came to the United States from Mexico, and he said he has “lots of” relatives in the border city of El Paso, Texas. On her father’s side, she has Puerto Rican roots.
While Republicans care more than Democrats about immigration, the most intense anxiety is among people who are more prone to conspiratorial thinking. Such people are the most likely to agree with a number of statements, such as that much of people’s lives are “controlled by plots devised in secret places” and that “big events like wars, recessions and election results are controlled by small groups of people who are secretly working against the rest of us.”
In total, 17% of those surveyed believe that the native-born are losing influence due to the growing immigrant population, and that a group of people in the United States is trying to replace the natives with immigrants who coincide with their political views. . That figure rises to 42% among the quarter of Americans most likely to embrace other conspiracy theories.
Alex Hoxeng, a 37-year-old white Republican from Midland, Texas, said he finds these more extreme versions of the immigration conspiracy “a little far-fetched,” but he does think immigration could lessen the influence of the native-born. USA.
“I feel that if we are inundated with immigrants arriving illegally, it can dilute our culture,” Hoxeng said.
Teresa Covarrubias, 62, rejects the idea that immigrants are undermining the values or culture of the American-born or that they are brought in to bolster the Democratic voter base. She is registered in the electoral register, but she is not aligned with any party.
“Most of the immigrants I’ve seen have a good work ethic, pay taxes and have a strong sense of family,” said Covarrubias, a second-grade teacher in Los Angeles whose four grandparents came to the United States from Mexico. “They help our country.”
Republican leaders, including border Govs. Doug Ducey of Arizona and Greg Abbott of Texas, who is running for re-election this year, have increasingly criticized what they call an “invasion,” and conservative politicians have traveled to the border between United States and Mexico to pose for photos next to the border wall of former President Donald Trump.
Vulnerable Democratic senators running for office this year in Arizona, Georgia, New Hampshire and Nevada have joined many Republicans in calling on the Biden administration to wait to roll back the public health rule put in place by the coronavirus pandemic, known as Title 42, which denies immigrants the ability to apply for asylum. They fear it could lure more immigrants to the border than agents can handle.
U.S. authorities detained immigrants more than 221,000 times at the border with Mexico in March, the most in 22 years, creating a tense political landscape for Democrats as the Biden administration prepares to to withdraw Title 42 on May 23. The powers implemented in the pandemic have been used to expel migrants more than 1.8 million times since they were invoked in March 2020 on the grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Newly arrived immigrants cannot vote in federal elections because they are not citizens, and becoming naturalized is an arduous process that can take a decade or more, if they are successful. In most cases, they must first obtain permanent residence and then wait five more years before they can apply for naturalization.
Investigations have found no evidence that ineligible voting, including non-citizens, has become widespread. For example, an audit of Georgia’s voter rolls this year found fewer than 2,000 cases of noncitizens attempting to register and vote in the past 25 years, none of which were successful.
Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters is one of several Republicans running for office this year who have capitalized on residents’ concerns about population change.
“What the left really wants is to change the demographics of this country,” he said in a video recorded in October. “They want to do that so they can consolidate power and not lose another election.”
The NORC Center- Associated Press survey of 4,173 adults was conducted from December 1 to 23, 2021, using a combined sample of interviews from NORC’s AmeriSpeak panel, a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. population, and interviews from opt-in internet panels. The sampling error margin for all respondents is plus or minus 1.96 percentage points. The AmeriSpeak panel is randomly recruited based on household-based sampling methods, and respondents are subsequently interviewed by phone or online.