After the last election cycle, conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, wrote what has now become the conventional wisdom in conservative circles with regard to Hispanic immigrants:
“They should be a natural Republican constituency: striving immigrant community, religious, Catholic, family-oriented and socially conservative (on abortion, for example). The principle reason they go Democratic is the issue of illegal immigrants.”
This argument has driven many conservatives – including the entire upper echelon of the Republican Party – to push for legalization of millions upon millions of illegal immigrants. The solution Krauthammer suggests to the problem of shifting demographics is this, “Border fence plus amnesty. Yes, amnesty. Use the word.”
Reality Check: There are individual Hispanic immigrants who are conservative, but to suggest that conservatives are one piece of amnesty legislation away from victory across the broad swatch of Hispanic immigrants just ain't true.
So, are Hispanics in America a Immigrants to the United States a striving immigrant community, religious, Catholic, family-oriented and socially conservative are no longer a natural conservative constituency?
Let’s look at the numbers.
According to the Center for Immigration Studies, 57% of new immigrant households with kids were using at least one welfare program in 2009. Over all, 37% of immigrant households are on a welfare program compared with just 22% of native-born Americans.
So yeah, immigrants are dependent on government by a far larger margin than native Americans. Which means they tend to lean left on the question of big government.
By the way, polls show that Hispanic immigrants lean left on the issue of big government. An April 2012 Pew Hispanic Poll showed 81% of Hispanics want bigger government with more services. Only 41% of Americans overall want bigger government with more services. Just 12% of Hispanic immigrants want smaller government with less services. Exit polls in 2012 showed that 61% of Hispanics wanted Obamacare expanded or left as is. Which makes sense. Virtually all of the countries from which Hispanic immigrants come are socialist in orientation. Many of them are socialist dictatorships, and America no longer bothers to push ideological integration into a small government philosophy.
How about the notion that Hispanics are a burgeoning religious class who agree with conservatives on social issues? Not so much. 53% of Hispanic children are now born out of wedlock. According to 2012 exit polls, 59% of Hispanics wanted same-sex marriage legalized, and 66% abortion should be legal in “most or all cases.” And in their own lives, Hispanics are becoming less religious: one-in-four Hispanic adults, according to Pew, are now former Catholics. Rising numbers of Hispanics are non-religious. Overall, the Catholic share of Hispanics has dropped 12 percentage points over the last four years alone. And even so-called religious Catholic Hispanics tend toward leftism – the poll shows that 49% of Catholic Hispanics favor same-sex marriage. Overall, 58% of Catholic Hispanics identify as Democratic or leaning that way.
Does this sound a like a naturally conservative constituency just an amnesty away from voting for the right?
And yet that seems to be the conservative plan. Which is absolute lunacy. As Mark Steyn wrote after the 2012 election regarding amnesty notions, “So, if I follow correctly, instead of getting 27% of the 10% Hispanic vote, Republicans will get, oh, 38% of the 25% Hispanic vote, and sweep to victory.”
Amnesty is not the answer to wooing Hispanics voters to conservatism. Treating them as individuals with life stories and life experiences with deeply held principles, as opposed to broad stereotypes, is. Let's teach both immigrants and native-born Americans why American values are important rather than pretending that a green card is going to buy conservatives love.