Monday, May 10, 2010

Prospects for Stable Democracy in Iraq, Postscript

A potentially new transformation is gradually taking place in the United States. It has been revealed in the debate over extremely contentious immigration bills to deal with millions of undocumented immigrants, largely Spanish-speaking from Mexico and Latin America, and millions more who seek legal entry into the United States every year, largely for economic opportunity. Arizona’s passage of a law requiring individuals to carry proof of legal residence in the state has propelled the debate to the front burner.

It’s clear from the demographics that the vast majority of illegal immigrants in Arizona is Spanish-speaking Mexicans and Latin Americans. There are relatively few illegal aliens residing in Arizona from Asia, Africa, and Europe.

As Spanish-speakers grow in number and are perceived in unified group terms, the quest for the “ethnic” vote could play a larger role in American national politics. This would generate a greater degree of nationwide ethnicization of American politics than in previous generations, when ethnic differences tended to be localized to individual regions, states, or towns. Hispanics currently constitute about 16 percent of the U.S. population, projected to rise to 29-30 percent by 2050. Estimates are that African Americans will remain stable at 14-15 percent, Asians will grow from 5 to 9 percent, and non-Hispanics whites will decline from 66 percent to 46 percent.

Regardless of one’s views on the treatment and/or resolution of illegal immigrants, it is important that the United States does not awake one morning and find itself facing a political situation similar to those countries discussed in this series of posts.

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