Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric Doesn't Win Elections

Another reflection for this post-election morning is this: the nativist tactic of using hate speech and language of division to promote immigration as a wedge issue is officially a FAILURE. From ImmigrationProf Blog (and because I couldn't have put it any better myself):

594px-lady_liberty_cracked_-_julio_aguileraElection 2008 is history.  Barack Obama wins.  The effort at an October surprise with the "news" of his "illegal alien" aunt fails.  And candidates with anti-immigrant platforms lost in races for the U.S. Congress.

A year ago, with the relatively recent demise of comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. Congress, it looked like immigration might dominate the 2008 Presidential election.  However, with the Wall Street cataclysm hitting its peak weeks before the election, that is not how it worked out.

Immigration was a non-issue in the Obama-McCain presidential debates and was rarely mentioned on the campaign trail by the candidates or the voters.  It most definitely was not the issue that gripped Joe the Plumber on election day.

And candidates who tried to play the anti-immigration card failed to get much traction on the issue. 

Goodbye to Senator Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina who started her campaign this time with a television ad with local sheriffs enforcing immigration laws. Her storied political career may have come to an end.

Lou Barletta, the mayor of Hazleton, PA who was known for his support for a tough anti-immigrant ordinance, lost in his race for Congress in Pennsylvania.  This may have been the high point of his political career.

Latinos and newly naturalized citizens turned out in record numbers for the election.  The following is a statement from Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, a non-partisan pro-immigrant advocacy group in Washington, DC.

"The election is over and the results are in: Latinos and eligible immigrant voters turned out in record numbers for President-Elect Barack Obama . We congratulate Senator Obama and his family on this momentous victory and welcome a new day for immigration reform. Looking closely at news across the country we see that like the majority of Americans who went to the ballot box today, our nation's economic crisis weighed heavy on the mind of immigrant voters. Yet, it is also clear that by turning away from a Republican party who scapegoated immigrants, new American voters voted overwhelmingly Democratic and linked the economic crisis to the safety and sanctity of their families. Quite simply, today, new citizen voters created a clear mandate for immigration reform and economic security for all Americans. But our new President should not take for granted the support of the immigrant vote, because it is not an unconditional support. Unless we move beyond the stalemate towards a pragmatic approach to fix our broken immigration system through a workable solution that is tough, fair and realistic, then the new American vote will swing the other way."