Blaming the rise of Trump on conservatives who oppose immigration 'reform'?

The Journal blames the rise of Trump not on the fact that the conservative agenda championed by Ryan is not all that popular with rank-and-file conservatives. Rather, it claims that “[m]any of the most devout Never-Trumpers” are themselves to blame because they “have spent years fanning grassroots hostility against immigration and Mexicans.” According to the Journal, Trump would never have darkened the GOP’s door with his anti-immigration rhetoric had these dastardly right-wingers allowed Ryan to broker a deal with President Obama that would have increased immigration levels.

The Journal deserves credit for offering such a daringly original take. Unfortunately, it does not bear even a passing resemblance to reality. First, it is worth noting that many of the most devout Never Trumpers are in fact open-borders Journal devotees, people who believe all conservatives who want to deport unauthorized immigrants are incorrigible racists. Second, it strains credulity to argue anti-immigration sentiment among Republicans was manufactured by the pundit class.

Most Republicans are strongly opposed to the kind of immigration reform championed by the Journal. One survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in September, when Trump’s victory was far from assured, found only 7 percent of Republicans said they’d favor an increase in immigration levels. A far larger share of the GOP electorate—67 percent—favored decreasing immigration levels. It should hardly come as a surprise that the battle for the GOP nomination came down to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, the GOP candidates who were in line with the 67 percent of Republican voters who favored decreasing immigration levels, and not one of the many also-rans who came closer to the Journal’s view.

Despite these very clear numbers, the Journal maintains that conservative pundits are responsible for the fact that Ryan failed to cut a deal with President Obama that would have substantially increased immigration levels. I dare say this overestimates the influence of conservative pundits....
 I have been a long time fan of the Journal editorial page, but this is an issue that I do not agree with them on.  The Chamber of commerce and business leaders may like the idea of legalization of illegal immigrants, but most Republican voters do not.  The legalization plan contains no viable deterrent to future illegal immigration and there is no limiting principal on future illegal immigration despite the typical references to border enforcement, which has never happened despite past promises.


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