Voters Engage in Honest Immigration Conversation

Apart from Rhetoric on Campaign Trail, Cooler Heads Prevail

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Republican voters are looking for candidates who can offer real answers on immigration.

Despite some candidates’ divisive rhetoric, a more nuanced approach regarding immigrants and immigration is emerging, starting with leaders in Iowa and New Hampshire.

At a panel Thursday in Raymond, N.H., faith, business and immigration leaders underscored the need for an immigration process that recognizes economic and human realities and adheres to our nation’s values.

“If we want to win elections, we have to attract people and not repel them,” former New Hampshire Republican Party Chairman Ferguson Cullen said after the panel.

Immigrants are making their voices heard as well, even in early states with relatively small immigrant populations.

“Whoever’s as close with our cause, that’s who we vote for,” Paulette Duclair of Raymond, a U.S. citizen who immigrated to the U.S. from Haiti 36 years ago, said after the panel. “We’re not Democrats. We’re not Republicans. We’re not independents. We’re behind the cause.”

States with much larger immigrant populations lie ahead for the campaigns. In states such as Nevada, the immigration conversation must reflect immigrants’ contributions to their communities. And across the country, immigrants are integrating and contributing locally, as James Fallows reports in the March 2016 Atlantic: “Almost every place we went, the changes in America’s ethnic makeup were obvious. Almost no place did this come up as an economic, cultural, or political emergency, or even as the most pressing local issue.”

“The negative rhetoric of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and others does not resonate with Republican voters who understand immigrants’ contributions,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum Action Fund. “Candidates can run away from our changing demographics for only so long. More than ever, immigrants are contributing to our communities and our economy.

“Whatever perceived political gain a nativist soundbite brings in the short term, it will not work with voters who will think of their immigrant neighbor, fellow congregant or local business owner. America is better when we treat immigrants with respect and dignity.”





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