Poll: Wealthy, liberals unite to support increased immigration

Neil Munro | White House Correspondent

A new poll shows that the wealthy and politically well-connected favor the sharp immigration increases that are included in pending House and Senate bills.

The immigration increases are opposed by the majority of lower-income and middle-income voters, and by political moderates and conservatives, according to the new Rasmussen poll of 1,000 likely voters. A plurality of African-Americans oppose the increases.

“The idea of importing millions of additional people to compete with American workers in the middle class is politically absurd,” said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies. Voters “aren’t stupid and they understand what the [immigration] proposals are designed to do,” he told The Daily Caller.

The stark class divide on immigration was highlighted by Rasmussen as House leaders, including Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Paul Ryan, prepare to push GOP legislators to back a package of far-reaching immigration bills.

They’ll use the Jan. 29-31 retreat in Cambridge, Md., to tout bills that would dramatically boost foreign competition for the blue-collar jobs sought by American voters, teenagers, graduates and unemployed.

In June, the Senate passed a bill that would triple the inflow of legal immigrants over the next decade.

The opposition to the bill is being led by reform groups, such as tea party groups, NumbersUSA and the Madison Project.

“We will not grow the party and win back Reagan Democrats by pushing the agenda of the corporate interests,” said Daniel Horowitz, policy director at the Madison Project. “Republican business interests are asking for a de facto maximum wage mandate with an unnatural and constant flow of cheap foreign labor.”

Other right-of-center advocates are pushing alternatives, including new productivity-boosting automation, that could bypass the Democrats’ use of racial politics to bind Hispanic voters into their coalition.

The Rasmussen poll shows that the greatest support for American workers comes from small-government tea party activists, who oppose the increased immigration by 79 percent to 19 percent.

Fifty percent of swing-voting moderates oppose the tripling, while only 36 percent favor the increase, said Rasmussen.

That’s important because the swing voters will decide in November whether the GOP get a majority in the House and Senate.

“The party that wins independents wins Congress. Energizing core supporters is necessary but insufficient,” GOP-affiliated strategist Karl Rove said in Jan. 16 Wall Street Journal op-ed about a new Quinnipiac University poll. That Quinnipiac poll showed a 50 percent rise in opposition to the pending immigration bills since last spring.

The new Rasmussen poll shows the greatest support for foreign workers comes from Democrats.

Sixty-two percent of Democrats told Rasmussen they support tripling the annual inflow of immigrants each year, while only 25 percent announced their opposition. Strong supporters of President Barack Obama support the extra inflow by 60 percent to 27 percent.

The second major source of support comes from professionals and executives who earn more than $200,000 a year.

They stand to profit the most from any increased supply of people competing for low-wage service jobs, such as maids, nannies, cooks, bartenders, butchers, landscapers, delivery drivers, golf caddies, retail clerks, fruit-pickers and laborers.

Sixty-two percent of those high-income Americans support the proposed tripling of immigration, while 28 percent oppose it.

Currently, the immigration bill is boosted by donations from many billionaires, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and investor Steve Case.

Fifty-one percent of the “political class” also backed the increase, while only 23 percent oppose it, according to the poll. Rasmussen says people are members of the political class if they trust government officials to work with corporate executives for the benefit of ordinary Americans.

The political class includes many editors and journalists. For example, a Jan. 15 Washington Post reporter lauded one illegal immigrant facing deportation, J.P. Caceras. Caceras had been hired in place of Americans while working for employers as a “bar star,” at many high-end bars and nightclubs in D.C., including Jaleo, Oyamel, the Chi-Cha lounge, Sushiko, and also as “head mixologist at Againn.”

Currently, the United States annually awards one million green cards and roughly 650,000 temporary work permits for work outside the agricultural sector. That inflow is roughly equivalent to one-third the number of Americans who enter the workforce each year.

The Senate bill, passed in June, would triple the annual legal inflow to roughly three million legal immigrants and more than one million guest workers throughout the next decade. That extra inflow — which would include roughly 12 million amnestied illegals and roughly 10 million extra immigrants — would roughly equal the number of Americans who are expected to enter the workforce during the next decade, and would outnumber the roughly 28 million teenagers in the nation.

The Senate bill would sharply increase the inflow of university-trained guest workers into employers, cities and colleges, and would push down salaries in health care, finance, technology, media and education.

According to the Rasmussen poll, 36 percent of moderates support the tripled immigration, while 50 percent oppose.  Fifty-two percent of people earning between $30,000 and $50,000, and 57 percent of people earning between $50,000 and $100,000, oppose the increase, while roughly 33 percent and 30 percent of each group, respectively, support the increase. People who earn less than $30,000 oppose the increase 55 percent to 31 percent.

Tea Party supporters oppose the tripling by 77 percent to 17 percent, and people who “somewhat disapprove” of Obama oppose the tripling by 59 percent to 23 percent.

House leaders say they support some kind of amnesty, and also endorse increases of legal immigration. For example, one bill passed by the House Judiciary Committee would annually provide 500,000 guest workers to employers in the food sector. That’s equivalent to roughly half the number of Americans who drop out of high school each year.

Some companies need a perpetual supply of low-wage labor to stay open, Ryan told a National Journal interviewer last year.

The Rasmussen poll showed the sharpest class divide when questioners were asked if they favor a tripling of immigration over the next 10 years, as allowed by the Senate bill.

But when voters were asked if the United States should increase or decrease immigration once the “border is secured,” the class gap apparently narrowed. Instead of  two-to-one support for a tripling of immigration, a solid majority of Democrats and a narrow majority of the highest-income group acknowledged their support for an increase, says the Rasmussen poll.

The quirk may be a funding of partisan loyalties, said Roy Beck, founder of NumbersUSA, which want to reduce immigration. The Rasmussen poll indicates that elite support for immigration rises when it is linked to Democratic goals, despite the elite’s much-declared empathy for poor Americans, he said.

If the Senate bill becomes law, it would shift more of the nation’s income to the wealthy, according to a June report by the Congressional Budget Office. Immigration transfers middle-class wealth to rich people people and employers because new immigrants bid down the middle-class wages of Americans, according to a 2013 study by Harvard economist George Borjas.

In December, President Barack Obama declared that income inequality is the “defining challenge of our time.” He also strongly supports increased immigration.

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