Wednesday, September 20, 2006

We should ask Colorado Republicans about new immigration poll findings

An interesting poll was published Monday in the Rocky Mountain News, not particularly surprising, but none the less interesting. It reflected the usual mix of feelings about the contentious immigration issue. 61% of Coloradans support an earned citizenship approach for undocumented immigrants, allowing them to stay in the country and eventually become citizens if they meet certain requirements like paying taxes and learning English. Only 15% favored deportation. Yet half said that immigration hurts the state more than it helps and a majority of respondents said that immigration was one of their top concerns along with the economy.

Nothing strange there. This poll generally reflects what similar polls show throughout the country. Respondents prefer a mix of "get tough" policies going forward and pragmatic compassion when it comes to the undocumented already living and working in the country.

But there was one interesting little fact buried down around paragraph twenty: "The typical voter who listed illegal immigration as the top issue this election is a suburban, white, Republican man without a college degree."

Who are these white suburban males who see immigrants as such a threat?

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Perhaps Rick O'Donnell, running for a House seat in Colorado's seventh district might have the answer.

A couple of weeks ago a story came to light about a strange proposal the candidate made requiring all male high school seniors to forgo their last semester at school to do community service along the border helping deter the flow of undocumented immigrants. The former head of the Colorado Department of Higher Education's idea was roundly criticized in the press and by his opponent, but it did bring to light some glaring problems in the educational system Mr.O'Donnell was previously in charge of.

According to Mr. O'Donnell's own figures, less than half of Colorado's sixth- grade boys pass the writing CSAP compared to 62% of girls, in the tenth-grade close to forty percent of boys fail the reading CSAP, and the state has a staggering drop-out rate of 25%. Obviously under Mr. O'Donnell, who also "designed Colorado's nationally top-ranked accountability system for K-12 schools. (and) developed 'Read to Achieve' to ensure that no student leaves fourth grade without basic literacy skills" many of the states children, particularly boys, have been left behind by their educational system.

Mr. O'Donnell cited these failures as the reason his program of mandatory service program was necessary - to build character and foster self esteem in Colorado's lost boys.

But what does this have to do with the Rocky Mountain News' poll on immigration? Or the fact that "The typical voter who listed illegal immigration as the top issue this election is a suburban, white, Republican man without a college degree?"

These white Republican males without college degrees are Colorado's lost boys - now all grown up - they are the boys whom the education system failed.

Left with the limited job prospects available to those with only a high school education or less, these men now fear an influx of immigrant workers as a direct threat to their livelihoods. When a state fails so badly educating its children that one in four children don't even get a high school diploma, leaving them to compete for a decreasing number of low-skilled, low paying jobs, it's no small wonder that they would see immigrants as a threat, and immigration as a top priority.

Ironically if Mr. O'Donnell or his predecessors had done their job correctly, he wouldn't have the "immigration issue" now to base his campaign on.

The same could be said for his anti-immigration cohort, Tom Tancredo (CO-6). Perhaps if Tommy spent more time administering to the business of his state rather than strutting around the Mexican border hobnobbing with minutemen or singing "Dixie" with South Carolinian white separatists, more children would be properly educated in his state and wouldn't have to compete for jobs at MacDonalds or Walmart and fear that newly arrived immigrants will only add to that competition.

(A big hat-tip to alma mia for finding this story and catching the "white Republican male" reference buried deep in the story…Kudos)


janinsanfran said...

Excellent hypothesis. Very much agrees with my anecdotal experience in California. Added reality because of the way the school systems marginalize people: some of these "lost boys" are of relatvely long past Latino ancestry. That's who gets pushed out of school in the suburbs. Right wingers like to shove them out front as restrictionists.

LonewackoDotCom said...

Excellent analysis. The solution, clearly, is to make sure that all white males get college degrees. If they don't, well then screw 'em.

Duke1676 said...

not quite Lonewacko,

But we should certainly expect our public school system to be able to do a far better job. To leave one quarter of it's children without even a high school diploma and expect them to compete effectively in a job market that requires ever higher levels of education to succeed is almost criminal.

Then to deflect the realities of this failure by telling the under-educated that their prospects are so limited because "illegals" take the jobs they could be doing is disingenuous at best.

The article stated that thirty-one percent of Republicans said illegal immigration would be the most important issue in the coming election - the majority of whom are white males without college degrees. With a dropout rate of 25% and by Mr O’Donnell’s own admission a crisis among young men in his state, it is safe to assume that many of these same man not only lack college degrees but high school diplomas.

According to O’Donnell:

“modern America is failing to adequately prepare its boys for manhood.

Men commit suicide four times more than women. The federal prison population is 93 percent male. Only 47 percent of Colorado's sixth-grade boys pass the writing CSAP, compared to 62 percent of girls. On the 10-grade reading CSAP only 61 percent of boys pass, compared to 73 percent of girls. Among kids labeled as learning disabled, 73 percent are boys. More women now go to college than men; and for every 100 women who get a college degree, only 67 men do.”

And what was O’Donnels answer to these appalling statistics … was it to correct the problems of the education system, find out why so many young men are diagnosed with learning disabilities, figure out why the great discrepancy between the sexes when it came to college admission’s? … of course not
His answer was to have them not waste time in school and instead patrol the border or tend to the national forests…. Jobs more fitting “their place in life.” This is not unlike the southern educators of generations ago who discouraged Blacks for perusing an education on the grounds that they didn’t really need one given their position in society.

Perhaps those like yourself, Mr. Tancredo and Mr. O’Donnell should stop trying to blame the failures of our education system, healthcare system and economy on immigrants and start to address the real causes why so many Americans continue to fall behind. If you were to have a wall build across the border, twenty feet high so that no new immigrant was ever to cross our border again, it would not change things one bit for the children left uneducated in Colorado. If you could round up every undocumented worker and send them back to their countries of origin it would not create quality jobs for those without high school diplomas.

It’s easy to scapegoat, shift blame and appeal to the electorate’s fears and apprehensions … it’s hard to solve the problems that face this nation and do the real work to ensure that all Americans have an opportunity to achieve the American dream. When you're ready to start that work let me know… until then it is you and those who want the American people to believe that immigrants are the cause of all their problems who have said "go screw em" to working men and women across this nation.

alma mia said...

Thanks for the nod...

...and for exploring this further. I agree with your observations.

alma mia said...

One piece of information is missing in the article about the poll -- that no age range was specified for the men mentioned.

I've done a bit of searching to see if I can find the actual poll results, but have had no success. I think it would be insightful to know for certain what age bracket was represented.

Pondering American said...

A few thoughts. The concerns of those white males should not be discarded out of hand but addressed.

I take some issue with the failure of the education system here. Not everyone is cut out for college. Some wish to pursue other career fields. There is nothing wrong with that really and lets face it College degrees are not what they used to be anymore.

That is one reason why I support a Guest worker program that can be monitered on a quarterly basis so to take into account economic factors in the COuntry. It does seem fair that if there is a shortage of labor that of course foreignworkers can apply for those jobs. However if we are in a downward economic cycle or recession common sense dicates that any guest worker program be adjusted so Americans can have more access to those jobs. Again I hope we get to the point where we can discuss the particulars of such a program. However it appears this will not be the year.

opendna said...

Nice turn around. Respect.

ukcoder said...

We are conducting a survey on amnesty for illegal immigrants in the UK and the USA for the next 6 months at . We want to hear opinions from normal people - not political parties or think tanks.

Your opinions or feedback are much appreciated