While most say they have at least some sympathy for the children, a majority of Republicans reports little or no sympathy. More than three in four Hispanics say they are sympathetic, and a majority of Hispanics report “a lot” of sympathy for the children. That reflects the large differences in these groups in how they judge the children and their motivations in coming to the United States. Overall the country is closely divided on whether the children now coming to the United States illegally are fleeing unsafe situations in their home country or have safe homes but would just rather live in the United States. Republicans see the children as coming from safe places; Hispanics, and a plurality of the public overall, do not.
This apparent nativist turn augurs poorly for the GOP, Molly Ball believes:
In the past, contrary to popular belief, support for immigration reform has seldom been toxic in Republican primaries. (A notable exception came four years ago in Georgia, when Nathan Deal ran to the right on immigration on the way to winning his gubernatorial primary and the governorship.) But the current crisis on the border has inflamed the perpetual hot-button issue, particularly among the vocal minority of the Republican base for whom the only acceptable “reform” is mass deportation. And candidates like [David] Perdue are exploiting the issue as a wedge.
That’s bad for immigration reform, which was already stalled largely because of House Republicans’ fear of just this sort of political backlash. And it’s probably bad for the long-term prospects of the Republican Party, whose elites are convinced its future national success rests on increasing its share of the Hispanic vote—a process they believe must start with passing immigration reform. Here’s a representative take from Tom Donohue, president of the (100 percent, openly pro-amnesty) Chamber of Commerce: “If the Republicans don’t do it, they shouldn’t bother to run a candidate in 2016,” he said in May.
But George Will wants to welcome the child migrants with open arms and make them into Americans:
I’d like to second the motion. If America cannot find a place for children fleeing terror and crime and violence, then America is no longer America. Hugh Hewitt, to his great credit, put forth a similar proposal earlier this month. Will and Hewitt may be on to something, Zach McDade explains, because children of immigrants now make up the majority of American children:
It’s a demographic fact that gets surprisingly little attention—the fact that, if not for immigrants and their children, the U.S. child population would be shrinking. There are more than 17 million children with at least one immigrant parent in the U.S. They represent over a quarter of the 70 million people under 18 years old. Their proportion will grow over time, as the number of children born to non-immigrant parents declines—in both relative and absolute terms.
This matters, because today’s young people make up tomorrow’s productive workforce, generating economic activity and supporting retirees. We already face a declining young-to-old population ratio, putting huge strain on Social Security and other safety net programs. The children of immigrants will provide a crucial and growing buffer against this demographic shift.