On Thursday’s episode of “All In with Chris Hayes,” Latinos for Trump founder Marco Gutierrez warned that his culture is “imposing” and “dominant,” and that “if you don’t do something about it, you’re going to have taco trucks on every corner.”
The proliferation of taco trucks is a stupid reason to worry that there is too much immigration. But in a weird way, Gutierrez’s warning was an insightful comment on America’s immigration politics.
Anti-immigration politicians talk a lot about crime and jobs and fiscal burdens, but that’s not what animates public opinion on immigration. Cost-benefit analysis is not what animates public opinion on almost any issue. Most voters do not have opinions about policies — they have feelings about issues.
In the case of immigration, our politics is about feelings like these: Do you want more of these culturally different people around, or not? Does it make you nuts to have to press 1 for English? Does the spread of Mexican-oriented businesses make you feel encroached on, like your culture is being taken over by another culture?
There are a lot of voters out there who like tacos as a food item, but who don’t like the trends that have them feeling “surrounded” by taco makers. As Lee Drutman described for Vox last month, the most solidly Republican cohort of states is those that, over the last 25 years, have had large percentage increases in their immigrant populations from a low initial level.
Arkansas was just 1% foreign born in 1990. Now, it’s 4.7%. On an absolute level, that surely leaves Arkansas far from awash in taco trucks. But the decline in cultural homogeneity is felt and, by many voters, disliked.
They’re expressing that dislike by voting for Trump.
This is an editorial. The opinions and conclusions expressed above are those of the author.
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