Are Americans’ fears about immigration rooted in economic concerns, or cultural anxieties?
A new PRRI / The Atlantic poll suggests the answer to that question is helping to shape the presidential race. The poll asked voters whether it bothers them when they come in contact with immigrants who speak little or no English. It found that 64 percent of Donald Trump supporters say immigrants who speak little or no English bother them. Only 46 percent of Ted Cruz supporters share that belief. The findings suggest that people who back Cruz are likely less culturally anxious about immigration than those who back Trump.
Cruz and Trump have sparred over immigration, pegging it both as a threat to American society and an economic issue. But in contrast to Trump, Cruz, a Cuban American senator, also tells a positive story about immigration.
The Texas senator has touted his parents’ roots on the campaign trail, recalling his father’s flight from Cuba in the 1950s. “Y’all know how to make a Cuban feel welcome,” Cruz said during a campaign stop in Miami last month. Cruz presented his father’s story—he began working as a dishwasher and eventually went on to attend the University of Texas—as a classically American tale of success. “[I]t’s who we are, it’s the Hispanic experience, but it’s also, much more broadly, it’s who we are as Americans. It ties us together,” he said.