Originally Published in Forbes
Andy J. Semotiuk - September 23, 2020
A new way of thinking about making America great again would be to substantially increase ... [+] GETTY
In a curious twist, Matthew Yglesias, a Vox co-founder, offers a different idea: Increase immigration — by a lot. His new book, One Billion Americans, argues for radically increasing the country’s population through immigration and a higher birthrate. This idea runs against the grain of almost everything that has been happening in the field of immigration for the last four years since Donald Trump became president. But restricting immigration appears not to be as popular today, as it was four years ago.
The polls show the trends.
Polling done in the U.S. presidential election battleground states by the Global Strategy Group(GSG) GSG -0.6%, clearly indicates that voters now see Trump’s anti-immigrant strategy as a reason not to vote for him. The separation of families, termination of DACA and questionable government spending on the border wall are seen by many respondents as among the weak points of Trump’s immigration policy. In fact, according to Immigration Hub, citing polls by Pew Research and Gallop in particular, there are now numerous national polls that demonstrate Americans are much more in favor of immigrants today, than they were when Trump was first elected.
As President Trump’s strategy on restricting immigration loses ground, Democratic presidential candidate Vice President Joe Biden’s strategy of supporting immigration is picking up steam. His immigration roadmap targets the Latino community in particular, promising them prosperity and justice, opportunity and recognition. In addition, the roadmap promises a path to citizenship for about 11 million undocumented immigrants, among which Latinos are the largest group.
Florida – the key battleground state.
This year, according to Immigration Hub, Latinos will be the most important voters, especially in many so-called key battleground states. One of those states, and perhaps the most important of them, is Florida. Among those eligible to vote in that state, there are 1.5 million Latinos, which is about 14 percent of over 11 million eligible voters in Florida. President Trump’s support in Florida back on the election night of 2016 was the first and ultimately deciding indicator that he would win that election. But, the 2020 election could be a different matter. Much depends of Biden’s efforts to win over Latinos in Florida.
As an exception to the rule, the Cuban American community in Florida has always been more supportive of the Republicans than other Hispanic voters in the rest of the country, who consistently support Democrats. But it appears, that the support of Cuban Americans in Florida for President Trump may not be there this time. Biden’s strong criticism of Trump’s immigration policies and the harm they have done to the Hispanic community, as well as Trump’s new immigration promises to restrict immigration even more, may be tipping the scales in favor of the Democrats this time.
Increase, not decrease.
In the book written by Yglesias mentioned previously, he argues that even if all Americans chose to live in the U.S. mainland, America would still be less than half as densely populated as Germany. Without substantially increasing its population, the author argues, the U.S. will not be able to grow and compete with China - America’s biggest challenger at the moment. Yglesias stresses, “Rather than being paralyzed by racial panic, ecopessimism, or paranoia about the loss of parking spaces, America should aspire to be the greatest nation on earth.” To achieve that, the author argues the population would need to swell to one billion people. This could be done, says Yglesias, if some building codes in popular cities were relaxed, enlightened visa rules that favored declining towns were adopted, and better policies advocating road pricing and improving railways to lessen congestion were introduced.
Immigration after the election.
Who will win the election? Nobody knows. Whether it is Trump or Biden, future U.S. immigration policy needs to change. Neither candidate’s policies are perfect. But in thinking about their future, Americans as a whole would be wise to consider the Yglesias argument and the recently published 2021 Immigration Action Plan endorsed by 173 organizations advocating for better immigration policies that are more humane and that see immigration as positive for America’s future. Trump would have a harder time of moving in this direction than Biden, but if he really wants to make America great again, this would be a good way of doing it.