1 in 3 fears immigrants will influence US election: AP-NORC poll
PHOENIX (AP) — With anti-immigrant rhetoric brimming over the run-up to this year’s critical midterm electionsabout 1 in 3 US adults believe efforts to replace Native Americans with immigrants for electoral gains are underway.
According to a poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, about 3 in 10 also worry that more immigration will cause Native Americans to lose their economic, political, and cultural influence. Republicans are 36% versus 27% more likely than Democrats to fear a loss of influence through immigration.
These views reflect rising anti-immigrant sentiment on social media and cable television, with conservative commentators like Tucker Carlson playing on fears that newcomers may undermine native-born citizens.
In their most extreme manifestation, these increasingly public views in the US and Europe draw on a decades-old conspiracy theory known as the “great surrogate,” a false claim that the native-born population will be overrun by non-white immigrants who will erode and eventually erase their culture and values. The once taboo term became the mantra of a losing conservative candidate in the recent French presidential election.
“I firmly believe that the Democrats – from Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi all the way down – want to bring the illegal immigrants here and give them the right to vote immediately,” said Sally Gansz, 80. Actually, only US citizens can vote in state legislatures and federal elections, and obtaining citizenship usually takes years.
A white Republican, Gansz has lived her entire life in Trinidad, Colorado, where about half of the 8,300 residents identify themselves as Hispanic, most of whom trace their roots back centuries to the region’s Spanish settlers.
“Isn’t it obvious that I watch Fox?” Gansz quipped, who said she watches the conservative channel almost daily, including the highly rated Fox News Channel show Tucker Carlson Tonight, a major proponent of these ideas.
“Shifting demographics are key to the Democratic Party’s political ambitions,” Carlson said on the show last year. “To gain and hold power, Democrats plan to transform the country’s population.”
These views are not shared by the majority of Americans — in fact, two-thirds believe that the country’s diverse population makes the US stronger and are far more in favor than against gaining legal status for immigrants who illegally immigrated as children were brought to the USA. But the deep concern expressed by some Americans helps explain how the issue is driving anti-immigration activists.
“I don’t feel like immigration really affects me or that it undermines American values,” said Daniel Valdes, 43, a registered Democrat who works in finance at an airline company on Florida’s Space Coast. “I don’t really care about any of that.”
Valdes’ maternal grandparents came to the United States from Mexico, and he said he has “tons” of relatives in the border town of El Paso, Texas. He has Puerto Rican roots on his father’s side.
While Republicans are more concerned about immigration than Democrats, those with the greatest propensity for conspiratorial thinking have been most concerned. This is defined as those most likely to agree with a range of statements such as how much of people’s lives are “controlled by conspiracies hatched in secret places” and “big events like wars, recessions and the results of elections are controlled by small groups.” “. People who secretly work against the rest of us.”
Overall, 17% of Americans believe that Native Americans are losing influence due to the growing immigrant population and that a group of people in the US are trying to replace Native Americans with immigrants who share their political views. That number rises to 42% in the quarter of Americans most likely to agree with other conspiracy theories.
Alex Hoxeng, 37, a white Republican from Midland, Texas, said he finds these most extreme versions of immigration conspiracies “a bit far-fetched” but believes immigration could lessen the influence of Native Americans.
“I feel like a flood of immigrants coming illegally can dilute our culture,” Hoxeng said.
Teresa Covarrubias, 62, rejects the idea that immigrants undermine the values or culture of Native Americans or that they are brought in to shore up the Democratic electorate. She is eligible to vote, but does not belong to any party.
“Most of the immigrants I’ve seen have a good work ethic, they pay taxes, and they 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. “You are helping our country.”
Republican leaders, including border governors 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,” with conservative politicians traveling to the US-Mexico border to to pose for photos next to former President Donald Trump‘s border wall.
Vulnerable Democratic senators up for election this year in Arizona, Georgia, New Hampshire and Nevada have joined many Republicans in urging the Biden administration to hold off on lifting the coronavirus-era health rule known as Title 42, which denies migrants the ability to seek asylum. They fear it could attract more immigrants to the border than officials can handle.
U.S. authorities stopped migrants at the Mexico border more than 221,000 times in March, a 22-year high, creating a tense political landscape for Democrats as the Biden administration prepares to assume Title 42 authority on Tuesday May 23 repealed. Pandemic powers have been used to expel migrants more than 1.8 million times since his appointment in March 2020 on grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Newly arrived immigrants are barred from voting in federal elections because they are not citizens, and obtaining citizenship is an arduous process that can take a decade or more — if successful. In most cases, they must first obtain permanent residency and then wait five more years before applying for citizenship.
The investigations have not produced any evidence the widespread voting by those who are not entitled, including non-citizens. For example a Georgia audit its electoral rolls Completed this year, it has identified fewer than 2,000 cases of non-citizens attempting to register and vote over the past 25 years, none of which have been successful.
Blake Masters, a candidate for the Arizona Senate, is among the Republicans running for office this year and has addressed concerns about a changing population.
“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 this to consolidate their power and never lose an election again.”
The AP-NORC survey of 4,173 adults was conducted December 1-23, 2021 using a combined sample of interviews from NORC’s AmeriSpeak probability-based panel, intended to be representative of the US population, and interviews from opt-in panels conducted online. The sampling error rate for all respondents is plus or minus 1.96 percentage points. The AmeriSpeak panel is randomly recruited using address-based sampling methods, and respondents were later interviewed online or by telephone.