Statue of liberty beckoning forth immigration.
Photo by Fabian Fauth on Unsplash

Racists? Xenophobic? Not so fast. As with many key issues facing our society, right-wing conservative groups clash when it comes to immigration.

Like everything conservative, all their different opinions are racially based and deplorable, rank xenophobia. 😱

When Gallup did polling on this issue in 2015, only 16% of respondents said immigration was a non-issue. A whopping 63% of respondents said they were either ‘a great deal’ or ‘a fair amount’ worried about illegal immigration.

On legal immigration, only 7% of those surveyed said they wanted to see an increase in immigration into the country while 53% were dissatisfied and wanted the number of people being let in to either decrease or remain the same.

When Trump ran for President in 2016 he was racist…err, I mean…..running on the basis of immigration. He was messaging to those 53% of dissatisfied Americans and to the 63% of Americans who were specifically worried about illegal immigration.

While polls may show binary views on a topic, they don’t show how those views are informed. Differing beliefs within the conservative movement are at odds on this topic of immigration and it is coming to the fore right ahead of the 2020 election.

Turning Point USA (a young conservative movement headed by Charlie Kirk) has recently come under fire from some for not being as racist as possible on this issue and only being a little bit racist.

A way to look at these questions, and other conservative issues, is from the perspective of ‘what are these different groups on the Right trying to conserve?’ or ‘how do the groups on the Right prioritize what it is they want to conserve?’

So-called ‘white nationalists’ on immigration –

Let’s just get this one out of the way because it’s the ‘hot button’.

Yes, a small faction on the Right wish to conserve the “white identity” of the nation as their first priority on this issue. They are concerned about becoming minorities in their own country. They look at birth rates and shifting demographics and see that this will happen within their lifetime.

What they are fighting against is the natural course of civilizations all throughout history.

They are considered ‘conservative’ because of their wish to conserve a demographic majority along racial lines. But you might be surprised to discover that many of these same people would be fine with ‘Medicare for all’, or blowing out spending on infrastructure, or increases in other welfare zones, so long as the nation remained a white majority nation.

They have always existed. They were not motivated by Donald Trump. They were not radicalized by Donald Trump. They were sought out and megaphoned into the country’s collective consciousness by a media hell-bent on drumming up controversies.

The ‘leaders’ in this movement are often unknown to most everyone and their ‘followings’ are very small. Their rhetoric is often considered inflammatory.

The only reason anyone hears about these guys in any large measure is because the media reports and propagandizes and attempts to position this group with other conservative groups.

Then you keep hearing about them because establishment conservatives scramble as fast and as hard as they can to convince ‘the people’ that they aren’t ‘one of those guys’.

The media wants you to think they are like cockroaches (where if you see one there’s a whole colony hiding in the walls), but really they are an elusive sort (except on the internet). And they breed slowly.

It can sometimes be hard to differentiate a real white nationalist from a shit-poster. So it’s best to just follow the same policy one follows with shit-posters: ignore, or block and ignore. (Tell CNN)

But in the debate over immigration the white nationalists are the strawmen. The MOST RACIST!

Paleoconservatives on immigration –

This group of conservatives is the real vanguard on the subject of immigration. They are often unfairly smeared and often forced into association with the racist fringe. But they themselves are noooot racist. (I promise! Ann Coulter is not racist, guys!)

To talk about immigration at all you have to talk about ethnicities, cultures and demographics. It is unavoidable. And prominent paleoconservatives do not back off from doing so. Which is why if Ann Coulter ever reads this she will laugh at and appreciate my joke and won’t tweet mean things about me. (Please don’t hurt me Ann! I’m just a nobody blogger)

Their main priority is conserving the cultural values and economic stability of America. It means something to be an American and to love and be proud of this country, and to be here with a burning desire to contribute to and reap the rewards of industry.

White nationalists are concerned about race. Paleoconservatives are concerned about culture.

As far as I know, the great historian Will Durant was not a “paleoconservative”, but I think this quote draws the best distinction.

It is not the race that makes the civilization, it is the civilization that makes the people; circumstances geographical, economic, and political create a culture, and the culture creates a human type. The Englishman does not so much make English civilization as it makes him; if he carries it wherever he goes, and dresses for dinner in Timbuktu, it is not that he is creating his civilization there anew, but that he acknowledges even there its mastery over his soul.

The Lessons Of History By Will and Ariel Durant
Will Durant-Ariel Durant – Simon and Schuster – 1968

I don’t think paleoconservatives are anti-immigration. They are pro-careful immigration. Many are just anti-immigration at the moment.

The motivation for coming to America historically was vastly different than the current motivation. Back then you had a lot of immigrants coming to a new society, eager and intrepid. They were going into the unknown and it was sink or swim. We didn’t have social welfare. We didn’t have a minimum wage. We didn’t have a myriad of regulations on businesses and hiring. We didn’t have guaranteed healthcare.

This started to change in 1965 when an immigration bill was passed that eliminated national origin as a basis for setting immigration quotas. It set new immigration standards and a host of other things. The 1965 bill effectively ended setting quotas based on nation of origin – a practice deemed racist. (Though I would note that pre-1965 there were no quotas on immigrants from Mexico and South America and thus far far less ILLEGAL immigration <.<)

During this same time Congress was busy passing the Great Society legislation that Lyndon B. Johnson pushed as his “war on poverty”.

Long story short, this set immigration on a different trajectory. There have been other immigration laws since then but the point is the picture of immigration today is very different than it was in 1965. With welfare thrown into the mix it is a recipe for disaster.

Here’s a seconds-long clip of Taleed Brown laying it out. The video is “Open vs Closed Borders. What’s the Libertarian Position?” but really it’s Taleeb, as a libertarian, defending the paleoconservative position on shutting down immigration in its current form.

Modern immigration is no longer a free market pursuit of the American Dream fueled by motivation, merit and capability.

Taleed Brown – ‘That Guy T’

There’s a lot of good stuff in the full video, but I think this additional quote sums it up.

[Welfare] philosophically changes the nature of what immigration is – transforming it from a voluntary investment of one’s human capital to contribute value to the native market, to a parasitic invasion to consume resources with no obligation of creating value to remain…

I guess leftists are going to have to decide which one they value more, but chances are they don’t even care to see the damage caused by having both.

Demographic changes are caused by immigration. Immigrant voting patterns heavily favor Democrats. So this, too, is a concern to the paleoconservative (who advocates for basic amendment rights, small government and sound economic policy), especially as progressives move further and further to the left socially and economically.

So these types of conservatives are necessarily racist prejudicial in favor of American cultural values.

Establishment Conservatives on immigration –

Mainstream conservatives (mostly dominated by neoconservatives) favor a more moderate approach on this issue.

Under President Ronald Reagan an immigration bill was passed that targeted business owners for hiring practices and granted amnesty to about 3 million illegal immigrants. George W. Bush advocated for a pathway to citizenship for those who came in illegally as minors, and for guest worker visas. Somewhere in between these two, or perhaps a little to the left or right of either, is where you will find most neocons, pundits, establishment-types (by which I mean dinosaurs in Congress) and #MAGA!!!!!! (‘But that’s not real MAGA’, ‘No! YOU’RE not real MAGA.’, ‘Guys! Can’t we all just get along? We’re all MAGA!’)

Here you have an attempt at a measured sort of approach to secure the border to prevent illegal entry and also reforming immigration law to make it easier to come in legally, but also to implement some sort of ‘quality controls’ on who can come in (such as education, financial standing, etc.)

Of course any test for who comes in could be attacked as racist based on percentages and disparities between nations in this categories, quotas, etc. Because, again, to talk about immigration you have to talk about nations of origin, which means you have to talk about ethnic groups and cultures.

I see the establishment position is sometimes stilted between a desire to “not seem racist” and a desire to “secure the border and limit immigration” to appease certain sections of the voting base.

They usually try to stay away from talking about ethnic groups except to tell them to get off the Democratic plantation. 👀 After all, so many of their friends are black – some are even gay! – and that’s proof they’re really color blind. Promise!

But really the bottom line is they are open and willing to make deals with leftists on the issue (or let it linger unhandled) because by-and-large immigration is not really a mainline issue with this group.

Let’s face it: low wage labor is desired by GOP donors. Between that and the democrats crying ‘racism’ every time they open their mouths, where is the impetus to discuss immigration? They have American interests overseas that need funding and best not to burn bridges that would hinder budget proposals.

Enter President Trump.

Establishment conservatives under Trump are more than happy to let President Trump be vocal on the issue while they remain largely silent and try to seem moderate.

When forced to confront the subject and talk about it you get ‘we are a nation of immigrants, why wouldn’t we want the best and brightest?’ but no real solid substance on how they would enact their ‘best and brightest’ purity tests.

But whatever those tests are, they would be based on and informed by Western cultural standards and thus racist and xenophobic all the same.

These are the ones who aren’t racist because they have friends who are <insert>.

Bonus perspective: libertarians on immigration (overly simplified and generalized) –

Open borders, basically, with important caveats. Certainly their cry for decreased (or eradicated) government regulation on business is key. They want the freedom to hire and associate (or not associate) with whomever they please limited only by individual property rights. Government should not regulate the labor market and this includes immigration.

These ones are okay with open immigration as long as the government will let them be racist when it comes to hiring. 👌🏽


This is an important issue in any case and conservatives and the GOP need to sort out the policy position and push it hard. The country cannot well go forward with immigration undecided and not acted upon.

And they need to realize that only total acquiescence to liberal news media and Democrat desires will (maybe) keep at bay weaponized use of ‘racist’ and ‘xenophobe’.

So, GOP, gird up your loins and bite the bullet. What’s it going to be?:

1. Closed borders to all until domestic welfare and economic policy is resolved, and then we can talk about immigration? (you filthy xenophobes!)

2. ‘Best and brightest’ admission with criteria that is certain to disproportionately exclude certain groups? (you racists!)

3. Open borders with the inevitable result of racial disparities in hiring and wages? (you anti-egalitarian scumbags!)

4. Totally acquiesce to the Progressives and thus admit your white-guilt? (the first step to recovery!)

The Democrats aren’t going to forever just stomp around yelling about being the ones who have the only solutions to the problems they themselves created with their past solutions. Sooner or later they will enact more solutions that will become more problems for them to solve. So Republicans need to act fast!


What’s your stance? Join the conversation on Twitter or drop me a line!