Even Donald Trump may be worried that his party’s nativist streak is damaging its brand. This week, he told 60 Minutes that while he would round up and deport 11 million unauthorized immigrants, he’d make sure to do it “in a very humane way, in a very nice way.”
It’s become a political cliché that the GOP’s rhetoric on immigration is suicidal given the growing importance of the Hispanic vote. But the United States is home to immigrant communities from all over the world, and political journalists’ constant discussion of the Hispanic vote obscures the extraordinary richness of our diversity. It’s what makes America truly exceptional. The United States is home to one-fifth of the immigrants on the planet. No other country welcomes as many immigrants as we do, nor assimilates them as well.
The Pew Research Center released a remarkable study this week, looking at how immigration has changed the face of the nation over the past 50 years, and projecting how it’s likely to continue doing so over the next fifty.
Over the last half-century, since the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act was passed, new immigrants and their children have accounted for 55 percent of the nation’s population growth, and Pew projects that almost 90 percent of population growth over the next 50 years will be driven by migration. If current trends continue, the foreign-born and their children will make up over a third of the population by 2065.
Now, it does make sense that we tend to focus on Latinos when debating the politics of immigration. It was the California Republican Party’s perceived hostility to this community that helped turned what was once a swing-state with a slight GOP lean into one of the bluest in the country. And today, Hispanics make up a significant share of the population in five of the most hotly contested states in national races: Colorado (21 percent), Florida (23 percent), Nevada (27 percent), Virginia (8 percent), and Iowa (5 percent).
But while anti-immigrant hardliners are enraged by being told to ‘press 2 for Spanish’ on the phone, in fact, less than half of the immigrant population in the United States is Hispanic. Over a quarter are Asian—they represented the largest share of new arrivals between 2000 and 2010. And the researchers at Pew expect Asian-Americans to surpass Hispanics as the largest minority group in the United States by 2065, when they’re projected to make up almost 40 percent of the population.