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2019-10-09 19:14:24

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An increasing number of immigrants are moving into states that swung for President Donald Trump in 2016. They're choosing them over blue states that are traditionally magnets for newcomers seeking to carve out a new life in the nation.That's according to a recent Brookings Institute analysis of migration trends among immigrants, many of whom are now choosing to live in red states that smaller immigrant populations as well as lower costs of living.The trend mirrors domestic migration patterns as people move out of expensive coastal cities in blue states and into less denser areas of red states. Their impact could be initially cultural rather than political, helping to soften views on a polarizing issue that Trump used as a wedge in the last election.Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

An increasing number of immigrants are moving into states that swung for President Donald Trump in 2016. And they're opting for them over the blue states that are traditionally magnets for newcomers seeking to carve out a new life in the United States.

That's according to a recent Brookings Institute analysis of migration trends among immigrants, many of whom are now choosing to live in red states with smaller immigrant populations.

If you look at the states whether they voted for Trump or have low concentrations of foreign-born, they're the ones getting the biggest percentage increases, William Frey, a senior Brookings Institute fellow, told Business Insider.

Read more: This map shows where each state's largest immigrant group comes from, excluding Mexico

Frey, who authored the research, was referring to states like Pennsylvania, a key battleground in the 2020 election that registered nearly 25% growth in its immigrant population since 2010. That marked a substantial double-digit increase that far outpaces many other states across the nation, most of them arriving from China. Trump won the state by just over 44,000 votes in 2016.

The lower cost-of-living may be a factor, but Frey says that finding work remains the main driver of immigrant movement — and red states have strong labor markets that are making steady job gains.

asdfWilliam Frey of the Brookings Institution

The trend mirrors domestic migration patterns as people move out of expensive coastal cities in blue states and into less dense areas of red states. Large cities like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago all registered declines in their immigrant populations last year.

Other red states that experienced rapid or strong growth in its foreign-born population over the last decade include:

North Dakota (115%)South Dakota (58%)Iowa (26%)West Virginia (23%)Utah (22%)Kentucky (21%)Texas (19%)

The immigration flow into most of the states above isn't likely to turn them blue in the next presidential election. And immigrants aren't a Democratic monolith by any means, considering that Trump — despite his anti-immigrant rhetoric and hardline positions on immigration — carried more of the Latino and Hispanic vote in 2016 than Republican candidate Mitt Romney did four years prior. 

Read more: Here's how many people in each state were born outside the US

But their impact could be initially cultural rather than political, helping to soften views on a polarizing issue that Trump used as a wedge in the last election.

Further down the road as these trends continue into these areas, I think that will change people's attitudes about immigrants and not make it such a hot-button issue as its been the last couple of years, Frey says.

The statistics of broader immigration to the United States, though, contradicts a core part of Trump's political message — that low-skilled immigrants from Latin America are swamping the United States and costing Americans their jobs.

Instead, the flow of Latin American immigrants has actually slowed since the Great Recession, according to the Pew Research Center — and more people from Asian countries are arriving to the United States instead, a substantial portion of them being college-educated. Pew estimates that Asians will constitute 38% of all immigrants to the United States by 2055, making them the largest immigrant-group in the United States.

The number of foreign-born residents in the United States is currently at an all-time high at 44.7 million people, or 13.7 percent of the population.

Back in 2014, FiveThirtyEight's Harry Enten and Nate Silver wrote about the migration phenomenon underway and they had a different conclusion on newcomers realigning the politics of their adopted communities.

People who leave an area don't necessarily resemble the ones who stay. Instead, there's evidence that migrants' political beliefs mirror those of voters in their new destination, Enten and Silver wrote. Many people moving from a liberal state to a conservative state may be conservative, or may at least end up that way before long.

Still, other factors could have a more immediate electoral impact in the 2020 election. The trade war is testing the allegiance of farmers, a key constituency with outsized influence in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, key states that Trump won by only 77,000 votes combined.

Read more: Trump's trade wars could cost him support among rural voters in the battleground states he barely won in 2016

And Trump's staunchly conservative policies and volatile behavior have turned also off wide swaths of suburban voters, which cost Republicans control of the House in the 2018 midterms and further threatens a key plank of the GOP's support in the 2020 election. His approval ratings among those voters are dismal, according to an NBC News analysis.

It also makes other reliably-red states like Texas — which experienced strong growth in its immigrant population over the last decade — a ticking-time bomb for Republicans in future elections.


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