The Twisted Logic Behind The Right’s ‘Great Replacement’ Arguments

“This more mainstream version of the replacement theory hides behind justifications that the criticism of changing American demographics is about politics and power. It’s a narrative so prevalent on the right that nearly half of Republicans believe that immigrants are being brought to the country for political gains. According to a poll conducted in December by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 47 percent of Republicans agreed with the statement that “there is a group of people in this country who are trying to replace native-born Americans with immigrants who agree with their political views.”

But those justifications are built on false assumptions about American demographics and immigration: that white people will soon be a minority in this country, that immigrants and non-white voters are all Democrats, and that no longer being the majority group means a loss of power. When those assumptions are torn down, the true justifications for these fears become transparent.

The theory’s first inaccurate assumption is that white Americans will soon become a minority population. But using any nuanced reading of the data, that’s not true. Yes, in 2015, the U.S. Census Bureau published a population projection that by the year 2044, non-Hispanic white Americans would no longer be a numerical majority in the country. But not being the majority is not the same as being a minority: Even in that projection, non-Hispanic white Americans would still make up a plurality of the population compared with any other race. And non-Hispanic white Americans are not the only white Americans. When you include American Latinos who identify as solely white, you wind up with “more than 70 percent of the population identifying at least in part as white in 2044 and over two-thirds in 2060,” according to research published last year in the journal “Perspectives on Politics.””

“The same research showed that presenting the demographic-shifts story as “majority-minority by 2044” prompts white Americans to say they feel more anxious and less hopeful. But when you present the same demographic changes in a more nuanced (and accurate) narrative around a rise in multiculturalism and Americans who identify as more than one race, white Americans’ self-reported anxiety was lower, even compared with a control group presented with basic facts about demographic changes with no narrative framing, according to the same study.

It’s almost like inaccurately framing demographic shifts as a zero-sum game leads to inaccurate perceptions among Americans that can amplify fear and resentment.”

“Another plot hole in the mainstream replacement narrative is the assumption that immigrants will solely support the Democratic party. Stefanik’s campaign ran a Facebook ad in September that echoed replacement-theory rhetoric. “Radical Democrats” were planning “a PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION,” the ad claimed. “Their plan to grant amnesty to 11 MILLION illegal immigrants will overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington.”

Carlson, too, has repeatedly warned of a so-called Democratic plot to “import an entirely new electorate from the Third World and change the demographics of the U.S. so completely they will never lose again.”

But even he concedes that this narrative is flawed, pointing out in his show last week that many non-white and immigrant voters are, in fact, Republican. In the 2020 election, roughly 2 in 5 Latino voters cast a ballot for then-President Donald Trump. And, as my colleague Alex Samuels has written, messaging about racial grievances might, perhaps counterintuitively, attract some Latino voters to the Republican Party. In fact, the GOP attracts voters from every racial group, and while white voters may be its base, not all nonwhite or immigrant voters are Democrats.”

Taking Formula From Immigrant Babies Won’t Fix the Shortage

“Migrants in detention centers aren’t free to leave facilities whenever they want to shop for baby formula. Legally, essential products must be provided to migrant children that the government has detained. “Facilities will provide access to…drinking water and food as appropriate,” reads the 1997 Flores settlement that addressed the treatment of migrant children. A 2015 Customs and Border Patrol document on detention standards noted that “food must be appropriate for at-risk detainees’ age and capabilities (such as formula and baby food).” These legal standards predate the Biden administration.

Nor would diverting baby formula away from immigrant detention centers ease supply chain woes in a meaningful way. Ursula—the facility Cammack singled out on Twitter—holds around 1,100 detainees. The number of American parents who rely on formula to feed their infants is on the order of millions. Though several Republican lawmakers and right-leaning news outlets are agitating about the “pallets of baby formula for all of the illegals who are crossing into the United States,” none have been able to say exactly how much formula is going to detention facilities or how often shipments are arriving.

The baby formula shortage is indeed a huge problem. About 40 percent of top baby formula brands are out of stock right now, and producers are warning that shortages could last for several months. But the shortage wasn’t caused by the government’s legal duty to feed the kids it has confined. “Much of the current shortage is rooted in a February recall of formula after a suspected bacterial outbreak at an Abbott Nutrition plant in Michigan,” explains Reason’s Eric Boehm. And while we could re-fill those shelves with formula from abroad, tariffs and quotas “make it burdensome and costly to import the supplies that are now desperately needed.”

You can’t solve the national shortage by making it harder for undocumented parents to feed their babies. Instead of looking for immigrant scapegoats, lawmakers should tackle the trade and regulatory policies that helped create the current shortage.”

Greg Abbott Has Used Migrants as Political Pawns Again and Again. Now, He Says He’ll Bus Them to Capitol Hill.

“Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has long held that his state is facing an “invasion,” which consists of thousands of migrants crossing into the United States from Mexico over the Rio Grande. Now, in an attempt to resist “the Biden open border policies” he claims are endangering Texans and compromising national security, Abbott is prepared to implement a policy that drew scrutiny as soon as he announced it.

“To help local officials whose communities are being overwhelmed by hordes of illegal immigrants,” said Abbott, “Texas is providing charter buses to send these illegal immigrants who have been dropped off by the Biden administration to Washington, D.C.””

“immigration advocates and those with a passing respect for individual rights pointed out that Abbott’s proposal, as stated, is both immoral and illegal. Transporting migrants across state lines against their will “sounds dangerously close to federal felony kidnapping,” argued Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, senior policy counsel at the American Immigration Council. Further, Title 8 of U.S. Code Section 1324(a) states that “any person who…knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law, transports, or moves or attempts to transport or move such alien within the United States by means of transportation or otherwise…shall be punished.”

Perhaps those snags are why the governor’s office has since softened its tone on busing migrants north. A press release published after the press conference stressed that “a migrant must volunteer to be transported” in order to board a bus or flight to Washington, D.C.”

“the new busing policy sits atop a heap of misguided, expensive, and dubiously legal initiatives the governor has undertaken in order to keep migrants out of his state—people who have the right under U.S. immigration law to seek asylum in Texas.

This policy comes from the man who proposed building a border wall of his own after former President Donald Trump’s never came to fruition. Abbott’s project, which is ongoing, ran into many of the same issues as Trump’s—exorbitant costs, tension between federal and state jurisdiction, and the need for egregious eminent domain claims in order to get the job done (not to mention a lack of widespread support). “The elected officials in border communities don’t support [Abbott’s] plans,” American Civil Liberties Union of Texas attorney David Donatti told Reason last year.

The governor’s border-securing mission—Operation Lone Star—has been similarly fraught. While Abbott and other state officials bragged about “more than 11,000 criminal arrests, drug seizures that amount to millions of ‘lethal doses,'” and tens of thousands of undocumented immigrant referrals to the federal government for deportation, watchdogs reported “arrests of U.S. citizens hundreds of miles from the border,” “claiming drug busts from across the state,” and changing statistics and metrics of success, according to The Texas Tribune. Several Texas National Guard soldiers stationed at the border committed suicide during the operation, while dozens more criticized the mission’s execution in an internal survey. With its spotty track record, the still-active Operation Lone Star costs taxpayers more than $2.5 million each week.

With that background in mind, it isn’t surprising that Abbott would opt for a blusterous anti-migrant spectacle that comes at the expense of Texas taxpayers and neglects any humanitarian or legal obligations to asylum seekers.”

This Indian Family Froze to Death Trying To Reach America. Our Immigration System Should Have Saved Them.

“Their case is an unfortunate example of what some people resort to when their immigration options are limited. Often, they are willing to take on extremely risky journeys for the chance of a better life. The Patels’ story is proof that an inaccessible immigration system won’t deter migrants whose minds are made up but will instead push them toward unsafe passages.

Local media reported that the Patels, who had worked as schoolteachers in the west Indian state of Gujarat, hoped to create a “new life” in the U.S. Jagdish made just $120 per month working in a local factory, and his wife Vaishaliben dreamed of working in a beauty salon in America. NBC News noted in January that Jagdish “wanted a better education for his kids, as well as better job opportunities and higher pay for himself and his wife, none of which he felt he could find in India.” He looked to one of many advertisements in his town marketing easy passage to the U.S. Thus began the journey that would prove fatal.

For people like the Patels, immigration pathways are limited. Most Indian legal permanent residents of the U.S. have received family-based or employment-based green cards—amounting to 98 percent of visa holders as of 2018. Employment-based channels largely bring in Indian migrants with higher skills and better education than the Patels, and the family did not seem to have relatives in the U.S. who could have sponsored them. Being Indian, they were ineligible for the Diversity Visa that caters to migrants in countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. They likely would not have been eligible for refugee or asylum pathways, given that their reasons for migrating were more rooted in economic reasons than safety concerns.

“These people effectively had no legal options that allowed them to safely travel to the U.S. and work,” says Sam Peak, an immigration policy analyst at Americans for Prosperity, a free market think tank.”

“Multiple factors prevented the Patels from reaching the better life they dreamed of having in the U.S. The American immigration system should welcome people who are seeking better opportunities and can improve the economies of their new communities. It may be too late for the Patels, but visa reforms can help prevent future migrant deaths on our borders.”

Immigrants could help the US labor shortage — if the government would let them

“Amid nationwide labor shortages in critical industries, more than a million immigrants are waiting on the US government to issue them work permits. Without these permits, many could lose their jobs, and some already have.

Biraj Nepal, a Nepali asylum seeker living in Woodland, California, has been working as a software engineer in the IT department of a bank for the last four years. Nepal went on unpaid administrative leave starting on January 26 because his work permit expired and the government has yet to process his renewal application. That has left his employer in a lurch: There’s long been a shortage of IT workers, and the pandemic accelerated that trend as companies went remote. Now, nearly a third of IT executives say that the search for qualified employees has gotten “significantly harder.”

If Nepal isn’t issued a new work permit within 90 days of taking administrative leave, his company will, by law, no longer be able to hold his job for him and will likely look for a contractor to fill his role. Under normal circumstances, that wouldn’t be a concern; work permits are meant to be issued quickly so that immigrants can be self-sufficient even while they are waiting on other applications for visas and green cards, which can take months or years to process. But the backlog at US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has reached crisis level.”

“The pandemic is partly to blame. Monthslong USCIS office closures and staff shortages have created a backlog of more than 8 million applications across all types of immigration benefits — including green cards, visas, and protection from deportation — and most work permit applicants have to be photographed and fingerprinted in person. USCIS was also plagued by a budget crisis under the Trump administration, and work permit applications spiked last fiscal year to an all-time high of 2.6 million, straining the agency’s capacity.

Under President Joe Biden, USCIS has taken some measures to combat the problem, though has stopped short of automatically extending the validity period of expired work permits as advocates have requested. It temporarily waived fingerprinting requirements for some applicants, exempted spouses of certain visa holders from having to apply separately for work authorization, and extended the validity period of newly issued work permits from one to two years for some immigrants who have been admitted to the US on humanitarian grounds. It has also hired new staff, including 200 people in the agency’s asylum division, to address the backlog. But it’s not clear why the agency hasn’t also adopted the extension policy that activists have called for.

Earlier this month, a federal court vacated two Trump-era rules that had restricted access to work permits for asylum seekers, meaning that their applications could be processed more quickly going forward.

“Agency personnel is addressing outstanding processing issues and making changes to underlying procedures to achieve new efficiencies while ensuring the integrity and security of the immigration system. This includes improving processing times and decreasing pending cases,” said Matthew Bourke, a USCIS spokesperson.

But the backlog remains too large to be solved quickly by USCIS’s new policies or the court decisions. That would require additional regulatory action: In addition to extending the validity of expired work permits, the government could also streamline the application form for work permits to speed up processing, Cruz said. That could help immigrants who can’t afford to wait much longer for their applications to be approved.”

Migrants are sewing their lips shut to protest the policy that stranded them in Mexico

“Facing pressure to find ways to limit the number of migrants requesting entry to the United States, Mexican immigration authorities will not permit the migrants to leave the city unless they have some form of legal immigration status allowing them to move freely through the country, such as asylum. Hundreds tried to escape last month, but were intercepted and detained by Mexican immigration authorities.

Many of Tapachula’s migrants have already applied for legal status so that they can travel north to the US border. Mexican immigration authorities are supposed to process those applications within 90 business days. But some migrants have been waiting for more than a year due to a surge in applications that has led to backlogs. In 2021, nearly 90,000 people applied for asylum in Tapachula, more than triple the number who did so the year before. Applications from vulnerable groups — including children, pregnant people, victims of crimes, people with disabilities, older adults, and their immediate family members — are currently being prioritized.”

“Migrants are being kept from entering the US under a pandemic-related border restriction first implemented by the Trump administration, known as the Title 42 policy, which allows the federal government to bar noncitizens from entering the US for health reasons. Although public health experts have said Title 42 doesn’t help to stop the spread of Covid-19, the Biden administration has embraced it. That has allowed the Biden administration to carry out 1.1 million expulsions to Mexico in the past year, including to the state of Chiapas, where Tapachula is located.

In 2019, the Mexican government agreed to ramp up immigration enforcement on its southern border in order to avert US tariffs Trump had threatened. Though the Biden administration hasn’t continued to threaten those tariffs, it has dangled carrots of vaccine doses and development funds in exchange for Mexico’s cooperation on limiting migration to the US border.

The effect of those policies has been to keep migrants away from US borders and out of mind for most Americans. And it’s been largely successful in silencing migrants unless they go to extreme lengths to be heard.”

“But the kind of care provided to migrants in Tapachula isn’t adequate. The city simply doesn’t have the infrastructure to support a sudden influx of people. For months, some 3,000 migrants were living at a campsite at Tapachula’s Olympic Stadium, where they had no access to clean water, food, health care, and other basic services, and shared only a few portable toilets.

That camp was disbanded in December, but there still isn’t enough affordable housing and room in local shelters to support the migrant population and it’s not clear whether or when the Mexican government will build more shelters. Many are sleeping on the streets near INM’s local offices and don’t have work permits, meaning that they can’t secure stable employment that would allow them to support themselves while they wait. And they have reported being mistreated, arrested in violent and arbitrary manners, and robbed of their money and their phones by Mexican authorities.

Though Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard has promised to reduce wait times by streamlining the bureaucracy around the asylum process, he has also acknowledged that the government simply doesn’t have the staffing and resources to meet the explosion in need.

The US could share the load by resuming processing of migrants at its own borders and allowing them to pursue claims to humanitarian protection, as is their legal right. Instead, it has offloaded its immigration responsibilities onto its neighbor.”

How To Boost the U.S. Economy While Sticking It to Putin

“the U.S. should “make the smart move and take away the men and women Putin needs to win” the fight in Ukraine. “The United States could, with a stroke of a pen, totally destroy the capacity of Russia to compete militarily or economically with us by offering a green card to any Russian with a technical degree who wishes to emigrate to the United States,” Zubrin continued. Such a move may not stop the current invasion, but it would hobble Russia’s ability to participate in the high-tech economy—fully in line with a central thrust of Biden’s announced sanctions against the Kremlin.

Getting Russian brainpower out of Putin’s hands will undoubtedly benefit America. The U.S. has a history of accepting great minds fleeing rival nations, from the scientists who escaped the Axis and later staffed the Manhattan Project to the many artists, athletes, and authors who defected from the Soviet Union. Immigrants are more likely to start businesses than native-born Americans, a trend that fully applies to Russian migrants. Accepting Russian immigrants, as with other groups, would help create jobs for native-born Americans—not take them away.”

Grocery Shelves Are Empty, but Immigration Waitlists Are Full

“Immigrants frequently fill jobs that native-born Americans are reluctant to do. Unsurprisingly, the largest gaps in the labor market tend to appear where immigrants make up a larger share of the workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020 “foreign-born workers were more likely than native-born workers to be employed in service occupations; natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations; and production, transportation, and material moving occupations.” Foreign-born workers make up roughly 17 percent of the U.S. labor force. In each of the struggling sectors mentioned above, more than 20 percent of the workers are already immigrants.

This dynamic isn’t just affecting low-wage jobs. According to Bloomberg, the U.S. is currently experiencing its worst health care labor shortage ever. An estimated 2.7 million immigrants are already working in hospitals. In October, 16 percent of American hospitals reported that they were critically short-staffed and the situation has only gotten worse. These essential jobs need to be filled so desperately that health officials are allowing staff infected with COVID to stay on the job. Many health care workers are experiencing burnout, and immigrants have already proven they can step in and get the job done.

Immigrants won’t solve every labor shortage in the U.S., but letting more people come here for an honest and well-paying job would be a great place to start. The sooner we see more immigrants allowed into the U.S., the sooner we’ll see more milk and meat at the supermarket.”

‘A $10-Million Scarecrow’: The Quest for the Perfect ‘Smart Wall’

“There was a time when Mexican vendors sold water jugs with a map glued to the side. The map displayed various mountain peaks, and migrants were directed to follow the promontories to highways where they would be picked up. Towers made that impossible. A 10-mile journey became a 20-mile march, and migrants increasingly relied on smugglers to guide them through arroyos, along mountainsides, weaving a path beyond sight of the towers. This is what Boyce and Chambers have termed CBP’s “corral apparatus,” an intentional strategy to funnel migrants into “a narrower corridor of movement” where they’re more likely to become isolated, confused, and where “physiological strain, suffering and mortality are likely to be greatest.” The very point of the surveillance tower placement, they contend, was to increase the difficulty of the journey.
“An initial strategy was to channel people into certain areas, to funnel them to a place where it’s easier to apprehend them,” James Lewis, who had advised on SBInet, told me. “That’s not good from a crosser perspective because they’re forced into more inhospitable areas, and the casualty rate goes up.”

This corralling has an official name, it’s called “prevention through deterrence.” The Clinton administration devised this strategy and CBP still practices it today — consciously or not. During the program’s first stages, in the mid-1990s, the U.S. raised walls near border cities with the intent to push migrants into the desert. Metrics like “a shift in flow” of migratory routes and “fee increase by smugglers” were signs of effectiveness. And deaths were an expected outcome. “Illegal entrants crossing through remote, uninhabited expanses of land and sea along the border,” the policy said, will “find themselves in mortal danger.” The government likely figured this would be an added deterrent, as stories of dead fathers and siblings filtered back through migrant networks. That is not what happened. Instead, as people left broken economies and rampant violence for the U.S., the death toll along the border soared and still the migrants came.”

How ‘Climate Migrants’ Are Roiling American Politics

“Kissimmee gained a whopping 10,000 new residents between 2017 and 2020, according to census data. Osceola County, where Kissimmee is located, and neighboring Orange County saw their combined Puerto Rican population jump more than 12 percent. The changes were so profound that González found herself competing with two other Puerto Rican candidates to become Kissimmee’s mayor.

“Hurricane Maria … served as a reintroduction of the Puerto Rican population into Central Florida,” said Fernando Rivera, director of the Puerto Rico Research Hub at the University of Central Florida. Now, “we’re seeing growth in the leadership [of Puerto Ricans].”

The concept of climate migration — population shifts forced by destructive weather changes — has been studied for years. But most Americans still think of it as something that happens elsewhere, or a future doomsday scenario about people flocking to North Dakota to escape extreme weather along the coasts. But experts are saying it’s happening in subtler ways already, forcing people to make moves as dramatic as the influx of Puerto Ricans to central Florida and as mundane as people in tidewater Virginia choosing one county over another to live in to avoid a possible flood plain.

But as evidenced by González’s election, such changes are significant enough to start scrambling the political map, with experts foreseeing a cascading effect of changes to come.”