10.21.2020 0

Could chain migration cost Trump the election?

By Robert Romano

From 1888 all the way through 1996, an uninterrupted period of 108 years, the winner of the popular vote was the winner of the Electoral College. Then, Republicans began to lose their edge, losing the popular vote in two out of three of the elections they ended up winning, in 2000 and again in 2016, with former President George W. Bush and President Donald Trump.

And 2020 could potentially produce precisely the same outcome again where the incumbent President Trump wins a majority in the Electoral College but loses the popular vote.

The issue is so pronounced that Stony Brook University Professor Helmut Norpoth has abandoned the popular vote in his own predictive model that charts performance in presidential primaries and incumbency as predicting the outcome, instead moving to the Electoral College for the first time in 14 years.

Introduced in 1996, this year the model predicts Trump will win the election with 91 percent certainty with 362 Electoral Votes to former Vice President Joe Biden’s 176 Electoral Votes. In 2016, the same model predicted a Trump victory, but was predicated on him winning the popular vote. He didn’t.

So, what gives? Why are Democrats more numerous than Republicans? For now, the problem for the GOP is largely confined to blue states with an enormous edge (for now) such as California and New York. In 2016 Clinton won those states 61 percent to 31 percent and 59 percent to 36 percent, respectively, with a 5.7 million vote margin (4 million in California and 1.7 million in New York).

The biggest reason appears to be chain migration.

From 1986 to 2018, the U.S. has taken in 32.6 million immigrants. 6.4 million or about 20 percent were from Mexico alone, according to the annual Yearbook of Immigration Statistics published by the Department of Homeland Security

Put another way, a country that comprises less than 2 percent of the world’s population made up one-fifth of all U.S. immigration. Nearly all of that was the 1986 amnesty and then the family-based preferences for those who received the amnesty.


Because of the 1986 amnesty plus chain migration, the Mexican share of overall immigration rose from 11 percent in 1986 to 51 percent by 1991 before tailing down again. In 2018, 14.6 percent of all immigrants were from Mexico alone.

87.6 percent of Mexican immigrants are family preferences for either U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. Another 1.1 million Mexicans are current on the family preferences waiting lists in 2019, or 33.6 percent of the 3.2 million total worldwide. Soon, they will become lawful permanent residents, and afterward, citizens — all legally.

That is without even considering how many more Mexicans will join the franchise via illegal immigration.

And in 2016, according to exit polls, Latinos voted by a margin of 2 to 1 for Hillary Clinton.

One does not need a degree in mathematics to chart this out. All of this is baked into the cake. Barring a sudden Republican baby boom or offsetting mass immigration from other parts of the world more likely to vote Republican, the danger is that America, very soon, will become just like California, with Democratic one-party rule.

In 2016, President Donald Trump ran on a platform of building the southern border wall, halting illegal immigration, ending catch-and-release and moving to a merit-based legal immigration system. And on the first two planks, dealing with the illegal immigration crisis, he has been successful. 450 miles of border wall will be completed by the end of the year, Mexico has agreed to hold inadmissible aliens pending hearings and deportations and removals are way up.

But a deal on legal immigration eluded President Trump in his first term. Compromise legislation by former U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) in 2018 would have ended chain migration and moved to a merit system, but failed to garner bipartisan support to overcome a Democratic filibuster in the Senate. Which, there is little incentive for Democrats to give anything on this issue.

Should Trump get reelected in November, he will have a very narrow window to address legal immigration before the 2022 midterms. In the meantime, the Supreme Court will be soon addressing two critical cases on the Remain in Mexico policy and on apportionment in the Census.

The question Republican lawmakers need to ask themselves is simple. How many more elections does the GOP expect to win without the popular vote? 2020 could be the last one, if 2016 wasn’t already.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.

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