As the Trump Administration continues to wage war on immigration by ramping up arrests of non-criminal undocumented immigrants and threatening to withhold federal funds from so called “sanctuary cities,” a surprising demographic of Trump allies appears to have emerged. Groups of first generation ChineseAmerican immigrants in Maryland and across the country are gathering to protest proposed legislation that would shield undocumented immigrants from arrest and possible deportation by federal authorities.
These highly organized and vocal organizations, which include the Maryland Chinese American Network and the Asian American GOP Coalition, have garnered national media attention in part because their mission seems counterintuitive. Why wouldn’t immigrants who have labored to achieve the American dream support immigration reform, even if it includes immigrants who are living in the U.S. illegally? The emergence of AsianAmerican opponents to undocumented immigration has even led some immigration advocates to wonder if there is a broader disparity between legal and undocumented immigrants and their respective views on immigration reform. But new data suggests that most AsianAmericans support undocumented immigrants. [See TThese First Generation Chinese Americans are Vigorously Opposing Sanctuary Laws, by Bill Turque, Washington Post, 20.Mar.2017.]
A study released this month by the National Science Foundation, entitled “2016 Post-Election National American Survey,” polled 4,000 AsianAmericans throughout the country. The survey revealed that more than 58 percent of them support comprehensive immigration reform that would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the United States. And 54 percent of the survey’s respondents felt that undocumented immigrants should have the opportunity to obtain a driver’s license. But even though AsianAmerican immigrants as a whole support avenues to allow undocumented immigrants to build a life in the U.S., the data also reveals distinct variances in attitudes towards immigration. More than 60 percent of Bangladeshi, Indian, and JapaneseAmericans support a path to citizenship, while only 46 percent of Vietnamese and 44 percent of ChineseAmericans feel the same way. So, why the discrepancy? [See This is What Asian Americans Really Think About Undocumented Immigration, by Janelle Wong, Washington Post, 23.Mar.2017.]
The answer appears to be rooted in politics. Bangladeshi, Indian, and JapaneseAmericans, who are more likely to support immigrant reform, tend to identify as Democrats. Vietnamese and ChineseAmericans are significantly less likely to support a path to citizenship, and are also more likely to identify as Republicans. In the increasingly polarized Trump era, where the fight for immigration reform seems to be fracturing along party lines, this insight offered by the survey is hardly surprising.