Skip Navigation

Close and don't show again.

Your browser is out of date.

You may not get the full experience here on National Journal.

Please upgrade your browser to any of the following supported browsers:

Does Immigration Spark Nativism? Does Immigration Spark Nativism?

NEXT :
This ad will end in seconds
 
Close X

Not a member or subscriber? Learn More »

Forget Your Password?

Don't have an account? Register »

Reveal Navigation
 

 

THE NEXT AMERICA

Does Immigration Spark Nativism?

A new report examines the complex connection between immigration and the rise of the extreme right.

+

Greece's extreme far-right Golden Dawn party, protesting in Thessaloniki, vows to kick out immigrants and place mines on the border with Turkey.(AP Photo/Nikolas Giakoumidis)

Amid the economic chaos engulfing Europe, the far right recently flexed its muscles in two of the continent’s most contentious elections, emphasizing immigration - legal or otherwise - as a political issue.

In the U.S., state-level immigration controls like those passed in Arizona in 2010 have become a darling issue of some on the political right, but the extreme anti-immigrant rhetoric that has characterized the rise of nativism in France and Greece has largely been absent so far.

Nativism and mass immigration are related, according to a recent study by the Migration Policy Center, a Washington-based think tank. But the connection is complex.

An increase in the number of immigrants in a particular area doesn’t necessarily translate into  an increased political support for radical-right parties, and it’s unclear whether right-wing rhetoric necessarily spills over into violence, the center reported.

When immigration becomes a political issue it can help nativist candidates. But those candidates have not been especially successful in the United States or Europe, the report said.

However, in Greece, the rising extreme right party Red Dawn, boldly embracing an anti-immigration platform, earned nearly 7 percent of the popular vote this month in parliamentary elections. That equates to 21 of 300 seats. In 2009, the party garnered only 0.23 percent of votes.

The U.S. has a long history of immigration, but only minor political parties, such as the American Constitutional Party, promote an openly nativist agenda on a federal level, according to the report.

The report names NumbersUSA and the Federation for American Immigration Reform as among the most powerful "anti-immigration" actors in the country. Their ability to connect to mainstream media and politicians  allows them to wield political influence, in some cases by providing technical support to state legislatures to draft bills that would curtail immigrant rights.

In the U.S. nativism has made its mark in states like Arizona, which passed a controversial immigration more than two years ago bill seeking to force illegal immigrants out of the state. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether parts of that law are constitutional later this year.

Nativist political parties have become part of the governments in Italy, Poland and Switzerland in the last decade, where they have influenced policy,  particularly on immigration.

While nativists in North America and Europe may have been successful in tightening immigration laws, they have lost the big battle, the report says.

Europe - particularly Western Europe - and North America are increasingly multiethnic.

 

Clarification: An earlier version of this story stated that the report named the groups NumbersUSA and the Federation for American Immigration Reform nativist. The report refers to them as "anti-immigration actors." NumbersUSA refers to itself as an immigration reduction organization.

Comments
comments powered by Disqus
 
MORE NATIONAL JOURNAL
 
 
 
 
Make your Election Night headquarters.
See more ▲
 
Hide