A Rightwing Multiculturalist approach to Immigration
Trump’s signature campaign issue was immigration and his election signified a rejection of the Reagan/Bush/McCain pro-immigration narrative. “Make America Great Again” had implicitly White demographic undertones of “make America White again,” Trump engaged in race baiting, such as his remark that Mexico was not sending their best, and Trump’s so called “Muslim Ban,” was an implicit move away from the colorblind narrative on immigration. Overall Trump was more restrictive on immigration than other recent presidents on certain policies, such as reducing refugee intake. Trump initially supported the Raise Act, which would have reduced legal immigration but also virtue signaled in support of legal immigration and later pushed for a merit based immigration proposal, crafted by Jared Kushner, that would have kept overall numbers high and lacked any geographic quotas. Despite Trump not significantly changing legal immigration policy, legal immigration modestly declined under Trump’s presidency. Though Trump actually deported less illegal immigrants than Obama, and many ardent restrictionists, such as Ann Coulter, were greatly disappointed with Trump on immigration. Trump squandered many opportunities to test the Overton Window on the national question and recently Trump’s justices voted down Trump’s remain in Mexico border policy.
Also the reaction to Trump pushed the Overton Window further left on immigration, at least in the short-term. Trump served as a boogeyman that energized the Great Awokening, that was already in place under Obama. Americans are also now more politically balkanized on immigration, with Republicans becoming much more anti-immigration and Democrats more liberal on immigration. As recently as the Bush era, there were still immigration restrictionist Democrats and open borders Republicans. However, anti-immigration sentiment has spiked under Biden with even a modest increase amongst Democrats.
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The Alt-Right hoped to use Trump as a vehicle to keep America White, which now seems incredibly naïve, even with the overall nationalist shift on the right. Trumpism may have seemed radically new, but was just a continuation of past trends such as Nixon’s Southern Strategy and controversial GOP strategist Lee Atwater’s appeal to White grievances. Conservativism at its core is still right-liberalism, such as Americanism as an idea. This explains the GOP’s incoherent ideological mishmash, including becoming a multiracial working class party, colorblind capitalism, and some racial dog whistles. However, White identity politics, such as talk of Replacement Theory, is growing on the right, and GOP candidates like Blake Masters, are now talking about reducing legal immigration.
Immigration policies are based upon paradigm shifts, such as the cataclysmic changes to US legal immigration policy that ended favoritism towards Europeans, and was linked directly to civil rights law in 1965. Besides the civil rights narrative, immigration law is based upon capitalism, such as immigration bills crafted by corporate interests. The GOP works within this paradigm to craft immigration policy, despite using nationalism and anti-immigration as wedge issues. For instance the GOP framing the immigration debate as about legal vs. illegal immigration rather than about demographics. During the 2016 election, the dissident right used the moniker Cuckservative to refer to conservatives who caved to the left on issues of nationalism and identity. A lot of “Cuckservatism” was just a way for privileged older Republicans who took Whites being dominant for granted, to virtue signal to prove that they were racially inclusive. Also the “nation of immigrants” narrative has long been so engrained in American culture, even among conservatives, such as desperate to be relevant, Nikki Haley, pushing a civic nationalism based upon fetishizing legal immigrants.
There are also practical limitations to the nationalist hardliner position, as a complete immigration moratorium, and mass deportations of illegal immigrants is not feasible. Neither is taking back America, either via mass assimilation or some kind of crypto White Nationalism, due to institutional power, political polarization, and demographic realities. I don’t dispute the reality of the Great Replacement, but the question is how the opposition responds, beyond using it as a wedge issue. America is beyond the point of no return for a viable colorblind civic nationalism, identity politics are here to stay, but implicitly White, American Nationalism, is not viable either.
There is a need for a symmetrical multi-culturalism that rejects wokeism, colorblind Americanism, as well as old school reactionary White Supremacy. This new rightwing multiculturalism is also fundamentally different from the GOP’s pandering to minorities, but rather embraces the inevitable future of different groups seeking their piece of the pie and forming tactical alliances, while maintaining ingroup loyalty and cohesion. For the right, instead of opposing multi-culturalism, “if you can't beat them join them,” they must successfully play the ethnic spoils game. Even Marjorie Taylor Greene’s proposed Anglo Saxon Caucus had potential to go in this direction but failed due to being linked to the MAGA narrative.
There is a need for immigration policy that reflects symmetrical multiculturalism, such as different groups coming together at the table and negotiating shares of immigrants, in order to maintain a healthy demographic balance of power under multiculturalism. Singapore does this with their immigration policy of quotas to maintain balance between the nation’s three main groups, Chinese, Malay, and Indian. Lobbying for more diverse and balanced immigration is reasonable and more palatable than any kind of extreme rightwing anti-immigration policies and can emphasize diversity in the true sense.
Obviously advocating for White exclusive immigration is way outside the Overton Window but even including Whites is still taboo. For instance Trump got flack for offhand remarks about wanting Norwegians and not immigrants from “shithole countries,” John Bolton alleging that Trump wanted to fast track White South Africans as refugees, and even a liberal pro-immigration New York Times columnist turning Xenophobic over White South African farmworker visa holders displacing Black American workers. Trump also got flack for allegedly favoring Ukrainians as refugees, which seems insane now, considering how hard liberal Democrats get for Ukraine. The main distinction between Ukrainians and White South Africans is not just Whiteness but rather that Ukrainians are feeling Putin, the “mastermind of a global rightwing conspiracy,” even if Ukrainians are fairly conservative. Trump hypothetically granting asylum to White South Africans would have been a giant middle finger to BLM ideology. Biden has shown favoritism to Ukrainian refugees and is open to welcoming Russian dissenters, and a more liberal pro-immigrant advocate, Daniel Rubinstein, proposed a special California commission on Slavic-American affairs, modeled on existing commissions for various peoples of color to help settle Ukrainian refugees. However, many on the left are still complaining about favoritism granted to Ukrainians over non-White refugees.
The Right alleges that the left imports voting blocs, as the left is more Machiavellian about their electoral demographic strategies. While conservatives have had support among certain immigrant groups, such as Cubans, Venezuelans, and Vietnamese, they never intentionally recruited or imported immigrant groups for support, the way that the left has. The possibly exception being favoring Cubans migrants, which Democrats also have, due to Cuban Americans being an influential swing vote. Even with Cubans and Venezuelans, recent migrants tend to be poorer, less White, and more likely to support Democrats. The GOP still relies upon an outdated Cold War strategy that is less applicable to current identity politics dichotomies.
Even though many White immigrants are liberal, White immigration is a crucial aspect of symmetrical multiculturalism. Whites may be at a disadvantage because less Whites want to immigrate, though a substantial number of Whites would immigrant if granted favoritism, and be enough to reverse White demographic decline. Potential sources of White immigration include the refugee crisis in Ukraine, Russia’s exodus, The EU and UK’s economic crisis, South Africa, Argentina, plus borderline White regions such as Israel, the Caucasus, the Levant, and Iran. While it is predatory on Europe’s demographics, especially taking into account America’s culpability in Europe’s collapse, America has an opportunity to brain drain Europe with this crisis.
There are ironic elements of symmetrical multiculturalism in the diversity visa lottery, which was created by Democrat Senators Ted Kennedy and Chuck Schumer. The lottery was, in part, a response to Irish and Italian interest groups protests of getting a raw deal, because the immigration act of 65’ meant much more competition for Western Europeans to immigrate. One could make a case that the lotto is a version of affirmative action quotas that includes White, who are underrepresented among immigration. All White countries are eligible for the lotto, with the exception of Canada and the UK, and about 30% of ‘diversity’ immigrants come from Europe, compared to about 8% of general immigration. Since Whites are vastly underrepresented among immigrants, increasing the diversity lotto would increase the White share and create a paradigm shift, paving the way for a multiculturalism inclusive of Whites.
The populist right alleges that liberal elites use immigration as a divide and conquer strategy, to prevent a majority White Christian monolith from uniting to challenge them. If a more diverse America is inevitable, the right should mimic that strategy, and use diversity immigration, to both increase the White share and also diversify the non-White population, to prevent one monolithic POC identity bloc. While it makes sense for the right to embrace diversity immigration, Trump actually restricted the lotto and DeSantis has also spoke out against it. While the lotto includes more Europeans, the main reason for the right’s opposition, is that the lotto disproportionately benefits Muslim immigrants, and is also an easy token to go after, rather than immigration programs tied directly to corporate interests, such as h1b visas.
In contrast with diversity based immigration, as Senator, Kamala Harris, along with Republican Mike Lee, proposed a bill to scrap country caps, mostly for the benefit of Indian immigrants who are backlogged due to being overrepresented. The bill also had very strong backing from Silicon Valley. There were concerns that the bill would have made it more difficult for immigrants from smaller nations, and Iranian American interests groups opposed the bill, as it would make it harder for Iranian immigrants. Opposition to this bill was a missed opportunity for the right to make its case for diversity.
Heartland Specific Visas, or geographic specific visas, are a proposal that would grant the state more power to regionalize immigration policy. For instance sending immigrants to one specific region, which seems like the antithesis of regional self-determination. However, this neoliberal proposal could be adapted to enclavism. For instance each city or census track being allocated a certain amount of immigrants who are vetted and approved by local government, who would then be responsible for the immigrants’ housing and education. This would grant citizens more power over immigration policy, empower communities, while limiting the power of special interests. It would be interesting to see how wealthy liberal White communities respond instead of virtue signaling. Would they block immigrants or favor wealthy White immigrants? However, this proposal might require changes in the constitutional framework that grants the power to admit and regulate immigrants to the Federal Government.
Besides rightwing multiculturalism or enclavism, I could see a revived civic nationalist assimilationist model on the right, due to the shift in Latino voters. While a majority of Latinos still vote Democrat, there is a significant rightward shift with significant gains in the Texas border region. The shift to the right with large segments of Mexican Americans is, in part, because Mexican Americans are more established, and Mexican immigration is declining with parallels to how the descendants of Ellis Islanders later became less enthusiastic about immigration. While Central American and Venezuelan immigration is currently high, expect those numbers to be exhausted by 2030. After 2030, most new immigrants will likely come from South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, not Latin America, which could make Latinos much less enthusiastic about immigration. If Latinos continue to shift right, expect Democrats to be more aggressive about promoting immigration from Africa and South Asia, while less enthusiastic about amnesty for illegal immigrants.
A poll from Equis Research shows that 55% of Hispanics support more border spending, 51% support reducing refugee asylum, 49% support reducing legal immigration, 42% support more deportations, 39% support building the wall, and only 28% support family separation. Hispanics are now to the right of Blacks on immigration, which is a fairly recent phenomenon. Asians are clearly the most pro-immigration demographic, though not unanimously so. However, a New York Times/Siena College poll found that Hispanics are more open to supporting the GOP on crime and the economy, but still support Democrats by wide margins on legal immigration. While many Latinos are unhappy about wokeness, BLM, and open borders, on average Latinos are still more liberal on race and immigration than the White populist demographic.
While focusing on the legality of illegal immigration is a big distraction, amnesty would accelerate the existing migrant crisis and could dramatically increase chain migration. However, mass deportations are not politically palatable and inhumane, and even harsh employer sanctions are unlikely. The status quo of illegal immigrants being in limbo, with neither a path to permanent legal status nor threatened with deportation, is not ideal but most likely to remain. While I oppose amnesty, it would be interesting to see a GOP politician propose a partial amnesty for dreamers, and undocumented farmworkers, in exchange for reducing legal immigration or instituting geographic based quotas. Another compromise might be freedom of association that allows for sanctuary cities, but also for White enclaves.
While the Hispanic oriented assimilationist model is different from rightwing multiculturalism, both models are ways that the right might adapt to a multi-ethnic America. In the future Whiteness will either be decoupled from Americanism or there will be a White friendly multiculturalism. There is a strong case that Whites are better off embracing multiculturalism in a more diverse America, where civic nationalism means that Whites are expected to assimilate to a mass society rather than granted some autonomy. Assimilationism prolongs Americanism, but rightwing multiculturalism and enclavism are a more radical departure from Americanism, and an opportunity for the right to claim the mantel of true diversity and against mass homogenization.
Immigration restrictionism can be a distraction from other endeavors such as enclavism, freedom of association, and alternative institutions. However, America could ironically become more xenophobic once the “replacement” is complete and it becomes more acceptable to be anti-immigrant. Immigration restriction will likely win out in the long run, due to automation. The establishment may also change course, such as Neo-con Never Trumper and former Bush speechwriter, David Frum, who used to be very liberal on immigration, later adopting immigration restrictionism. Frum’s likely motive being to ease the transition of “replacement” towards a more assimilated blended America rather than balkanization that “fascists” could exploit. For this same reason, Biden’s immigration policies are extremely accelerationist, even if by accident.
There is a rapidly unfolding crisis, caused by the Ukraine War, inflation, high US interest rates crashing other nations’ economies, and shortages in food and energy, that will wreak havoc upon much of the world, accelerating mass migrations. While Whites are demographically declining globally, there could be a boost in White immigration, alongside an overall big surge in immigration from all over the world. The global crisis causing any significant White immigration or even certain areas becoming more White, could contribute to a massive paradigm shift. The blogger, Indian Bronson, tweeted about the Russian brain drain in that “The US has developed anti-immigration tendencies just in time to ensure it doesn't pick up this diaspora but Central Asia and Europe do. It would be a boon for long term demographic stability and talent in the US for these folks to get immediate visa priority over any queue.” Indian Bronson is mostly correct, though I expect immigration to be high for the next several years, followed by a wave of anti-immigration sentiment, especially as the economy and income inequality continue to get worse.
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