As anti-immigrant rhetoric simmers ahead of this year’s critical midterm elections, about 1 in 3 American adults believe an effort is underway to replace native Americans with immigrants for electoral gains .
About 3 in 10 people also fear that increased immigration will cause native Americans to lose economic, political and cultural influence, according to a poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Republicans are more likely than Democrats to fear losing influence because of immigration, 36% to 27%.
These views reflect growing anti-immigrant sentiment embraced on social media and cable television, with conservative commentators like Tucker Carlson exploiting fears that newcomers could undermine native-born citizens.
In their most extreme manifestation, these increasingly public views in the United States and Europe tap into a decades-old conspiracy theory known as the “great replacement,” a false claim that people born in the country are being overrun by non-white immigrants who are eroding, and will eventually erase, their culture and values. The once taboo term has become the mantra of a losing conservative candidate in the recent French presidential election.
“I strongly believe that Democrats — from Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi, all the way down — want to bring illegal immigrants in here and give them the right to vote immediately,” said Sally Gansz, 80. In fact, only US citizens can vote. in state 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 population of 8,300 identify as Hispanic, with most having roots dating back centuries to Spanish settlers in the area.
“Isn’t it obvious I’m watching Fox?” joked Gansz, who said she watches the conservative channel almost daily, including the Fox News Channel show “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” a leading proponent of such ideas.
“Demographic change is key to the political ambitions of the Democratic Party,” Carlson said on the show last year. “In order to gain and retain power, Democrats plan to change the nation’s population.”
These views aren’t shared by a majority of Americans — in fact, two-thirds believe the country’s diverse population makes the United States stronger, and far more supportive than opposed to a path to legal status for immigrants. smuggled into the United States as children. But the deep concerns expressed by some Americans explain how the issue energizes opponents of immigration.
“I don’t feel like immigration really affects me or undermines American values,” said Daniel Valdes, 43, a registered Democrat who works in finance for an aviation company on Space. Coast of Florida. “I’m pretty indifferent to it all.”
Valdes’ maternal grandparents came from Mexico to the United States, and he said he had “tons” of relatives in the border town of El Paso, Texas. He has Puerto Rican roots on his father’s side.
While Republicans worry more about immigration than Democrats, the most intense anxiety was for people with the greatest conspiratorial thinking tendencies. This is defined as those who are most likely to agree with a range of statements, such as much of people’s lives being “controlled by conspiracies hatched in secret places” and “big events like wars, recessions and election results are controlled by small groups of people who work in secret against the rest of us.
A total of 17% of Americans believe both that native Americans are losing influence due to the growing immigrant population and that a group of people in the United States are trying to replace native Americans with immigrants who agree with their political views. That number rises to 42% among the quarter of Americans most likely to espouse other conspiracy theories.
Alex Hoxeng, 37, a white Republican from Midland, Texas, said he finds these more extreme versions of immigration plots “a bit far-fetched” but thinks immigration could reduce American influence of strain.
“I feel like if we’re inundated with illegal immigrants, it 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 driven to strengthen the Democratic electoral base. She is registered on the electoral lists but is not aligned with any party.
“Most of the immigrants I’ve seen have a good work ethic, they pay taxes and have a strong sense of family,” said Covarrubias, a second-grade teacher in Los Angeles whose four grandparents are from Mexico to the United States. “They help our country.”
Republican leaders, including Border Governors Doug Ducey of Arizona and Greg Abbott of Texas – who is up for re-election this year – have increasingly decried what they call an “invasion”, with politicians conservatives traveling to the US-Mexico border to pose for photos next to former President Donald Trump’s border wall.
Vulnerable Democratic senators in elections this year in Arizona, Georgia, New Hampshire and Nevada have joined many Republicans in calling on the Biden administration to wait until the known coronavirus-era public health rule is lifted. as Title 42 which denies migrants a chance to seek asylum. They fear this will attract more immigrants to the border than the authorities can handle.
US authorities arrested migrants more than 221,000 times at the Mexican border in March, the highest in 22 years, creating a difficult political landscape for Democrats as the Biden administration prepares to lift Title 42 authority on May 23. Pandemic powers have been used to deport migrants more than 1.8 million times since it was invoked in March 2020 on the 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 another five years before they can apply for citizenship.
Investigations have failed to find evidence of widespread voting by people who are ineligible, including non-citizens. For example, a Georgia audit of its voter rolls completed this year found fewer than 2,000 cases of non-citizens attempting to register and vote over the past 25 years, none of which were successful.
Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters is among the Republican candidates running for office this year who have played on concerns about the changing population.
“What the left really wants to do is change the demographics of this country,” he said in a video recorded in October. “They want to do this so they can consolidate power so they never lose another election.”
The AP-NORC survey of 4,173 adults was conducted December 1-23, 2021, using a combined sample of interviews from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak panel, which is designed to be representative of the American population, and interviews online opt-in panels. The margin of sampling error 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 then interviewed online or by telephone.