Amir Hussain, professor of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University, Robert P. Jones, chief executive officer of the Public Religion Research Institute, and Shannon K. O’Neil, the Nelson and David Rockefeller senior fellow for Latin America studies and director of the Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy program at CFR, discuss immigration and demographic trends in the United States. This meeting took place at the American Academy of Religion 2016 Annual Meeting, as part of CFR’s Religion and Foreign Policy Initiative.
ALDEN: OK, let’s try that one more time. Is that good? (Audience murmurs.) OK, then. I will—I will—I will start it from the top.
I want to thank everyone for attending this luncheon discussion on immigration and the changing face of America. My name is Edward Alden. I’m a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations based in Washington, D.C., though our mothership is in New York.
I have been working immigration issues for quite a long time, going back to my work as a reporter and to a book I wrote on the impact of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on U.S. immigration policy. Also directed a Council on Foreign Relations task force, which are the big products we produce every year, on making recommendations for the overhaul of U.S. immigration policies. That was back in 2009. I also do a lot of work on trade issues. And in the shameless self-promotion department, I’m going to plug my new book just out. It’s called “Failure to Adjust: How Americans Got Left Behind in the Global Economy,” which I think actually goes a long way to explaining why Donald Trump swept the Rust Belt states and is going to be our president next January.
Immigration, of course, was also an issue that featured very prominently in the recent election. I saw a fascinating graphic in the Wall Street Journal recently, which was a map that looked at the pace of immigration into different parts of the country—wasn’t looking at total immigration; obviously, the big cities are still the places where the vast majority of immigrants go—but rather at the pace of change. And in the past couple of decades, the change has been much more rapid in smaller cities, towns, and even in rural parts of the country. And if you looked at the Wall Street Journal map, these were very much places that by and large voted for Donald Trump on November 8.
So we have a lot of things on the table here. And I'm delighted to be joined by three of the country’s leading thinkers on immigration and the changing demographics of the United States. I’m going to start from my far left here.
Robert Jones is the chief executive of the Public Religion Research Institute and also author of a recent book, “The End of White Christian America.” Dr. Jones is co-chair of the national steering committee for the religion and politics section of the American Academy of Religion and writes and speaks broadly in major media; I just saw a piece by him in TIME magazine this morning.
Sitting next to him, Shannon O’Neil, my colleague, is senior fellow for Latin American studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. And she also directs our Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy program. She is author of a fine book on U.S.-Mexico relations, “Two Nations Indivisible,” and has also directed two task force reports for CFR, one on U.S.-Latin American relations and one of the future of North America.
And then finally on my immediate left, Amir Hussain is professor of theological studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and author of the new book “Muslims and the Making of America.” Dr. Hussain was for five years the editor of the Journal of the American Academy for Religion and previously taught at the University of Toronto, one of my favorite places and perhaps the most successful multicultural city in the world.
Their full bios are all in your material.
Also want to remind you that this session is on the record and that the audio and transcript are going to be posted on the Council on Foreign Relations website, which is CFR.org.
So, Robby, I’m going to start with you. It has become somewhat cliché to say that we live in two Americas, but the recent election did seem to confirm that that is indeed the case. How would you characterize those two Americas? And how have they been changing?
JONES: Well, I certainly think we’re all feeling that, in many ways, after the—after the election, and we may all be feeling that next week as we go home to our families and Thanksgiving tables more than we may be feeling it even this week. I’m headed to Madison, Mississippi, tomorrow to spend to Thanksgiving with my very divided family down in Mississippi.
But, you know, it was interesting, when we were putting together—so I’m the CEO of PRRI. We’re a nonpartisan research organization. And we put together this Fall survey every year called the American Values Survey. And typically, in election years, you know, we’re thinking about policies, and we’re thinking about, like, which thing—which policies people are ranking. And as we were making up the questionnaire, like, the—just the feeling of the election left us feeling the policy questions were almost not that important, right, to put on the election—put on the pre-election survey this year because it seemed to be about so much other than policy. And we ended up titling our final pre-election report, you know, the 2016 election, 1950 or 2050, question mark, right, with the sense that the “make America great again” and this kind of backward-looking back to the 1950s kind of model on the one hand and the sort of stronger together, leaning in to the new millennial kind of diversity on the other hand with the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Just one thing that I think will—is—we actually asked Americans about this, whether American culture and way of life has changed for the better or changed for the worse since the 1950s. And to me, this is maybe the most telling question out of everything we ask pre-election. The country is divided exactly down the middle on this question. I mean, it’s exactly down the middle. And what you have, basically, is kind of older, rural, white Americans and Christians, white Christians on one side of this equation and basically everybody else on the other side of this—of this—of this equation. And I think that characterizes in many ways kind of what’s going on.
And one other thing I’ll just kind of say. So for my—the—my recent book has a provocative title called “The End of White Christian America.” And the reason why I titled that is that we are really experiencing—I think that’s what’s also turbo-charged the anxieties in this election season, particularly among white Christians in the country who turned out in droves for Donald Trump—it set a new high-water mark, in fact; white Evangelicals voted 81 percent for Donald Trump in this election cycle. That’s higher than they voted for George W. Bush in 2004. And one of the things I think going on is this deep, deep anxiety because just in the last two election cycles, we have in fact moved from being a majority white Christian country to a minority white Christian country just during Barack Obama’s presidency. And I think that has, in fact, set off a great deal of anxiety about cultural change in the country.
ALDEN: Thank you very much, Robert.
Shannon, I want to turn to you and ask you in particular about the role of immigration and particularly immigration from Mexico and Latin America in the changing face of this—of the country. This group, I think partly because of its size and the growing presence of Spanish as a language in the United States, obvious to all of you here in Texas but in many other places in the country as well, I think to some extent has challenged the long-standing idea of the United States as a melting pot in which immigrants would quite rapidly lose their former identities and become unhyphenated Americans. Is that a fair concern? Is the melting pot in some way weakening?
O’NEIL: Sure. Welcome, everyone, and it’s a pleasure to be here with you.
And that has been one of those big concerns. And I think we heard it in this last election, right, that there’s something different about this wave of immigration. And the most prominent proponent of this view and probably scholar of this was Sam Huntington, who was up at Harvard, who wrote a book basically about the who are we and the idea that this wave of immigration was very different than others. And actually, when Sam was writing the book up at Harvard, I was there too, and it was in workshops with him as he was presenting these chapters. And we went through lots of drafts and lots of very heated discussions about whether or not this was—this was a reality as he was—as he was putting together this book.
And you look at Mexican immigration, and there are some things that are unprecedented. One of those things is just the sheer number, the absolute number of Mexicans that have come here. And particularly since the late ’60s, early ’70s we’ve seen 16 million Mexicans come here to the United States.
One of the differences, too, in Mexican immigration compared to other waves that we’ve seen in the past has been the length of it. When you look back at Italian immigration or Polish immigration or Irish immigration or those other types of waves, often they were really confined to just about 20 years. There was a moment when you saw a huge wave come in, and then it stopped. And so you saw a generation that was influenced or that came, but it didn’t continue. And what we have in the United States today is we have first-generation Mexicans here, but they live next door to fifth-generation or sixth-generation Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. So it’s a very—it’s a different flow than many of those in the past.
But many of the fears that were laid out by Sam Huntington and that we have heard in other venues, more popular venues, actually have not proven to be true. These immigrants, Mexicans and Mexican-American immigrants as well, Central Americans, they assimilate as fast or faster than previous waves of immigrants. And so you look at surveys of even the use of English, and by the third generation, the third generation of Mexican-Americans has a much more difficult time talking to their abuela back in Mexico than they do to the students in their class who are from the United States originally, right? You see the transition from speaking Spanish to speaking English move very quickly.
And the other thing that is following previous waves of immigration is that it has now really faded, right? It was a wave. It lasted longer than others. But it has now really crested and is beginning to recede. So it started cresting in 2006, 2007, and since 2009 we have actually seen a net zero, net negative flow of Mexicans, so more going back to Mexico than coming here each year. And in that period we probably lost somewhere around 150,000 Mexicans in that population. So—and there are many reasons why this is probably the end of that wave that we saw through the ’80s and ’90s and beginning of the 2000s. It’s demographic reasons in Mexico. It’s educational reasons in Mexico. It’s economic reasons on both sides of the border. It’s security as well at the border and what we’ve done on the United States side. So that wave really has receded.
And let me just—one last thing I’d throw out there. Those who are, you know, worried about Spanish, worried about sort of that side of it: When the Founding Fathers were debating originally the Constitution, they considered and debated putting in an English-only clause into the Constitution—which they ultimately decided not to do, but it’s because they were worried that we would all be speaking German. (Laughter.) And so we have seen this in the United States before. We have seen waves of people coming in, speaking other languages, having other customs. And the United States is that melting pot. We’ve been able to absorb them and move on. And I think that exact same thing will happen with Mexicans and others coming from Latin America.
ALDEN: Thank you, Shannon. And it almost makes me want to say, “Ich bin ein Berliner.” (Laughter.)
Amir, I want—I want to turn to you next and ask you in particular about Muslims in America, which was obviously a big topic during the campaign. You’ve got your book here as well, so please wave it up. I did that with mine, so wave it up for everyone to see, “Muslims and the Making of America.” Where do Muslims fit into the American landscape, and how has their presence and influence been changing over time?
HUSSAIN: Thanks for that, Ted, and good afternoon to all of you. So this is the shameless plug, “Muslims and the Making of America.” The first sentence in the book, “there has never been an America without Muslims,” many of us aren’t aware of that. You know, when Mrs. Clinton in the second debate said, Muslims have been here since George Washington, you might say, no, we’ve been here before George Washington, you know. 1539, Estevanico dies in what is now New Mexico, you know. That’s 80 years before 1620, you know. 1730, you have a West African slave, Ayuba Suleiman Diallo, who’s brought to Annapolis, you know. It’s two years before General Washington is born, you know. 1734, his story is told in a book published in London when General Washington is two years old, you know.
So where I’m going with this is we have this history here. At least a quarter of American Muslims, anywhere between a quarter and a third, depending on how you look at, are African-Americans, people who have been Americans, you know, for hundreds and hundreds of years, you know. But a third of us are people like me, you know, South Asians from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh. About a third of us are Middle Eastern. So, you know, what’s an American Muslim look like? It depends, you know, because Middle Eastern could be Iranian, Turkish, Kurdish, you know, all those kinds of things. We’ve been here, as I said, before America was America. It’s in the last 40 years or so, you know, ’67—’65, excuse me—with the civil rights, changed immigration law—that’s when you start seeing Muslims immigrants coming in. So about—roughly speaking, about two-thirds of American Muslims are immigrants. Roughly speaking, about a third are long-term here.
We’ve been involved in things for centuries, but the problem is we often don’t know people who are Muslims. So the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, their 2014 poll said that 62 percent of Americans don’t know a Muslim. And you want to add the qualifier, “that they know of.” The LGBTQ community, you know—I don’t know anyone that’s gay. Yeah, you do, you just don’t know that they’re gay, you know. (Laughter.) I don’t know anyone that’s a Muslim. Yeah, you do. You just don’t know they’re Muslim. You probably don’t talk to your cardiologist about Islam, and you probably talk about your cardiologist about your heart. There is between, depending on who you look at, 10,000 to 20,000 Muslim doctors. There are 6,000 Muslims serving the armed forces, you know. There is a couple Muslims in Congress, Keith Ellison and André Carson, you know. And so you have that kind of history.
We lost—and I’ll end here—with the greatest of all time, my great hero, Muhammad Ali, you know, this summer. And you thing about what does it mean that perhaps the most famous man in the world—and this is before the Internet, before social media—was an American Muslim, you know, who when he stood up in ’67 to not go to Vietnam, that was very much as a Muslim. That happened to be as a member of the Nation of Islam. But in ’67, that was not a popular decision, you know. His decision earlier to convert, to become Muhammad Ali, not Cassius Clay—that was not a popular decision, you know. By the time he died, he was this sort of kindly old man, and we’d sort of forgotten about the radicalness and thought about, you know, the shaking with the Parkinson’s, you know, lighting the torch in ’96, that kind of thing.
But, you know, it’s really interesting when you start thinking about that history that we have had in this country and the institutional history for well over a hundred years—I mean, most of us think that the oldest mosque was a mosque in Maine, that, you know, the oldest continuous mosque, was built as a mosque, that goes back to 1915 in Maine, you know, where you had a mill owner who went to Albania, you know, who wanted to bring in workers for his mill. And they brought in Albanians who were Muslim, you know, who built this mosque. And so you have that kind of history here as well.
ALDEN: Thank you. Thank you very much, Amir.
I want to turn a little bit and talk about the election, which is obviously on everybody’s minds here and in the rest of the country. Robby, how big a role did identity politics, whether religious, racial or other sorts of identities, play in voters’ choices this year?
JONES: You know, I think the first thing I want to say is—and most of what I’ve been saying about the election—is that I think this election is more revelatory and revolutionary, right? So we should I think take it that way. It feels like something of a revolution, right, because we’ve got the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court, you know, and the White House kind of all fall in one direction. But, you know, it’s important to remember that the voting patterns, if you kind of look at the main patterns in the exit polls, they look very, very similar as they have basically since Reagan.
The real revolution in our politics came actually following the civil rights movement, as white Christians in the South moved from being solid Democrats to being solid Republicans. That’s the thing that changed the electoral map for what we’re dealing with today.
And so what we’ve seen, basically, is this real, you know, constant pattern of—and it’s not an overstatement to say that essentially, since Reagan, one way you could parse out the electoral map from the exit polls is it is white Christians groups voting for Republican candidates, and a shrinking pool now of white Christians groups voting for Republican candidates, and basically a growing group of everybody else leaning toward Democratic presidents—kind of back to this two Americas theme. And this year there was just enough in just the right places to move it. Just to get an example, you could take the number of people you could fit into the University of Michigan stadium, about 110,000 people, and you could flip three states with just that many votes this year—Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, if you pushed all those votes the other way, all three of those states flip. So it’s important to kind of remember that.
And—but the other thing I would say just real quickly is that the power of race has been the thing that has—race and ethnicity is the thing that’s been—stayed with me from my recent work on the book. And just couple of examples—we’re here at the American Academy of Religion meeting—that I think are things that religion scholars just have to reckon with, theologians, religious studies scholars, all—but just two examples: Among Evangelicals, if you look at white Evangelical Protestants, eight in 10 of them voted for Donald Trump. We don’t have the official numbers from the exit poll, but our pre-election poll showed that nonwhite Evangelicals were supporting Hillary Clinton at seven in 10, right? So this is just—Catholics, right? One holy Catholic apostolic church. Catholics, white Catholics, six in 10 supporting Donald Trump; two-third of nonwhite Catholics supporting Hillary Clinton, right? So this kind of racial-ethnic divide just right through the middle of American religion is one of the most powerful forces that we really have operating.
And just one last point going straight to your question about the power of class versus kind of identity politics: We did some analysis just last week and posted a map on PRRI’s website, if you want to take a look at it, but we correlated white—the density of—like, states and their density of white Christians in the country. And it turns out that that correlation between how many—what percentage of state has white Christians in the country is more highly correlated with support for Trump than the density of white working class—people in the country. So it played a very, very strong role, the identity piece of this.
ALDEN: And Robert, this is not just a South-North divide, right? I mean, you pointed out, if you want to understand, you know, Pennsylvania or Michigan, that this is actually an important of explaining what happened in those states, too.
JONES: Yeah. No, in fact, the states that are the darkest red on this map, if you do white Christian density, are Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia—it’s not the Southern states because they actually have much more ethnic and racial diversity in the Southern states. I mean, they’re there too, but it explains a lot of this Rust Belt/Upper Midwest—(inaudible).
ALDEN: Very interesting.
Shannon and Amir, it was—it was clear that fears about immigration, you know, immigration in general from Mexico and Latin America but most acutely security fears about Muslim immigrants, were big factors in the campaign that Donald Trump ran. Why did he manage to strike such a chord? And Shannon, I’ll start with you.
O’NEIL: So I think one of the actually biggest factor and where he struck a chord has not to do with immigration, which I think was important, but actually has to do—and this not a shameless plug, this is a sincere plug—has a lot to do with the issues that Ted writes about in his book. I have read it, it’s a great book, and I recommend to everyone because he really gets at—
ALDEN: I didn’t set this up, by the way. (Chuckles.)
O'NEIL: We didn’t—no, he didn’t—I—but I wanted to say this because it is really a great getting at the why part of America has gotten left behind. And I grew up in rural Ohio, and I saw the Ford plants close in the ’80s and continuing, and so I saw a lot of that, and Ted really gets great at explaining that. And I think that was really important in this election.
But immigration was too. And one of the—I was about particularly Mexicans—of course, we have lots of other kinds of migrants, and Mexican migration, as I mentioned, the rhetoric has not caught up yet with reality, which is one of declining Mexican immigration to the United States. But one thing that’s also happened in that expansion that happened in the ’80s and ’90s, early 2000 is, as Ted mentioned in his introduction briefly, was the expansion of the places they went. So it wasn’t just to Texas and California and around Chicago or perhaps to New York; it’s been throughout the United States. And actually, one statistic I saw showed that just under half or just about half of all the counties in the United States, there are at least a thousand Mexicans, Mexican-Americans living there. So that means what used to be quite concentrated in particular places, now it is in half to the United States. And that is something different.
And when I was looking at some of this information in the light of the election results that we’re talking about here, it reminded me of this really interesting study I had read back in my graduate school days that was about white flight. And it was looking at neighborhoods—it was written by a guy named Don Green, who’s a professor at Yale, a statistician, and he was looking at these communities. And what he found was that when you had Afro-American—you know, families move into traditionally white neighborhoods, suburbs or urban areas, and they were—usually, at the beginning, it was—it was OK, and attitudes from the residents who had been there before were fine, and there wasn’t really a lot of change, and they’re pretty open about their new neighbor.
But when that percentage got above 10 percent, all of a sudden—they did a longitudinal study, so over time in these neighborhoods—all of a sudden attitudes started to change, and the way they—asking questions about their neighborhood and about their neighbors and the like, things started to change. And then you—in many of these communities, then you start to see the original families who had lived there move to other neighborhoods. And that was sort of an interesting dynamic.
And while this is somewhat different, I think there’s parallels here, is so many of these counties, it’s just in the last decade or couple of decades where they’re starting to grapple with new populations that eat different foods, that many do speak Spanish or other languages, and so that challenge I think was playing out a lot in our elections. And much of the rhetoric we saw come out of the Trump campaign, much of it quite hostile, as we all know, to Mexico and to other immigrant groups, I think plays into some of the insecurities that you can see when new people come into your neighborhood.
ALDEN: Amir, is it the same story with Muslim immigration, or a slightly different one?
HUSSAIN: It’s—there are some similarities there because of course, the other group that was mentioned were Muslims—the fact that in the second debate, who did we talk about? Muslims. We’re not talking about other religious groups there.
It goes back to what I was saying with the Pew Forum. You know, 62 percent of us don’t know a Muslim. And so there is—there is a lot of ignorance there. Part of it is that fear, you know. Almost all—not all—not all of us, but a majority of us are folks who are black and brown—you know, one-third South Asian, one-third Middle Eastern and one-third African-American. And of course, there are white Muslims, Latino Muslims, other ethnicities, but all the racial kinds of things that, you know, Robert, you were talking about there, I think those come into play there.
You know, the talk these days, 2002 to 2010 we had NSEERS, the National Security Exit-Entry Registration System, you know, where 82,000 of us—and I was one of those people that was registered in that system—very weird kind of moment for me where they started in 2002. I was born in Pakistan, Canadian citizen, at that point was on, like, a H-1B visa, had been approved for a green card under the outstanding research category, but it was sort of in the works. And my wife and I are coming back from Vancouver, and you clear, you know, Canadian customs, you clear U.S. customs in Canada when you’re flying. And, you know, you get stopped by the border person saying, you know, you need to be registered in this system. Sir, I don’t think I need to be because we—my university, check the lawyers, I was four when I came to Canada, haven’t, you know—no, you need to be registered. And next three hours, you’re fingerprinted, photographed, put in this system, this thing on your passport so that the next time you leave the country, I had to go through Tom Bradley International Terminal to get the passport stamped, to be able to leave the country. Coming back through Toronto, it’s the same thing. And the border agent says, wait, there’s a problem with this. And I’m, like, oh, man, what are they going to do now? And he comes back, and he goes over to his supervisor, goes, yeah, you shouldn’t have been put in this system. I don’t what the guy in Vancouver is thinking, but you shouldn’t have been in this system, you know. So he sort of takes it out. And it just—and for me, that arbitrariness, you know, kind of thing. There were 82,000 of us who were registered in that system. Not one terror conviction that came out of those 82,000 folks there.
And so I think there’s that kind of concern when you hear about registry, you know. Do I think Mr. Trump is going to register me as an American Muslim citizen? No, I don’t think so. I think what they’re talking about coming from the gentleman from Kansas is this, you know, revival of this kind of program. But you want to say, that doesn’t work, you know. I was in Montreal, actually at McGill a couple months ago giving a talk about radicalism—how do you counter, you know, Islamic radicalism and what are some of the issues there. Well, monitoring mosques doesn't work. You know, I happen to be a Muslim who also is a scholar of Islam. The mosque that I go to, the Kind Fahd mosque in Culver City, you know, Sheriff McDonnell, the L.A.—the sheriff in Los Angeles who has this really interesting position because of California as one of the top lawmen in the state—he’s been in that mosque, you know. The Homeland Security person there has been in that mosque. The regional director of the FBI has been in that mosque, you know. That mosque works with all levels of law enforcement, you know. Monitoring that mosque isn’t going to help you. You talk to, you know, Sheriff McDonnell, the sheriff. This isn’t going to help us, you know. That might help us, you know, in terms of countering radicals, that kind of thing.
And I think that’s the issue for Muslims is the fear that’s there because the reality is very different. But, you know, I grew up working-class poor. Both my parents worked in factories, you know, so when you were talking about, you know, the closing the factories, that kind—so that was my family, you know, having to deal with those kinds of things with my dad on the picket line working the Ford plant. You know, my friends who are Muslims, their fathers and mothers were doctors, lawyers, engineers, business owners, you know. American Muslims are American success story, you know. We’re just as wealthy, just as educated as non-Muslim Americans, you know. You don’t need to be trite about this, but we are the American dreamers who are living that kind of thing out. I mean, I look at myself. I’m a professor. My sister is an engineer. Both my parents worked in factories. You know, you can do things here that you couldn’t do in countries of origin, you know, where in Egypt, didn’t matter who—what degree you had; it’s who your father was and how much money you had to bribe the system. You know, here you don’t need to do that. And so I think for American Muslims, there is that great sense of, you know, who are we here? You know, are we not citizens? Do we not have the same rights? Is this not the country that we sort of wanted to come to?
And I think the danger—and I’ll stop here—is it’s very easy to say, it’s that other group. You know, the problems here, we’re not doing them, it’s those folks over there. It’s these Muslims that are doing this kind of thing. And you had that. You know, you had the Orlando shooting, you know, 49 people shot to death—you know, horrific, 49 too many, you know. There’s been over, what, a thousand people shot to death in Chicago, you know? You start thinking about where’s the violence in this country, who’s doing that violence?
ALDEN: This is actually a good segue into my next question, why is I’m going to ask you all to gaze into the crystal ball a little bit and talk about changes that we’re likely to see on immigration policy in a Trump administration and what your concerns are. You know, you mentioned the gentleman from Kansas. That’s Kris Kobach. Kris is the secretary of state of Kansas. I’m not trying to plug my books here, but my last book, Kris Kobach was a prominent character. And he was the man who designed the NSEERS system for John Ashcroft when he was attorney general in the Bush administration. And it looks like Kobach is going to be back in some sort of senior position in the Trump administration, which terrifies me, to be quite honest.
But I want to ask, you know, looking forward, what are you concerned about? And maybe paradoxically, where do you see opportunities on these issues? I’m going to go reverse order here, so we’re going to start with you, Amir. What worries you most about what might come in the next four years? And do you see causes for optimism, though?
HUSSAIN: So I did a piece, you know, for Bill Moyers’ website. And I love Bill, he’s one of the, you know, truly great journalists out there. And I said, look, I became a U.S. citizen three years ago, so this is my first chance to vote. So with my students it was a really interesting opportunity to talk to them about, you know, voting for the first time. And, you know, well, what do you do? Well, you roll up your sleeves. You go to work. You don’t like the results of the election, what do you do? You work. You do that kind of thing. You see the kinds of things you want to change. And I think that sense of the place of American Muslims in American society as, you know, professionals, doctors, lawyers, engineers, you know, 6,000 in the Army, 10,000 physicians, that kind of thing. So I’m very hopeful there.
The fear is, of course, that you start being marginalized post 9/11—so no, we all remember, you know, 9/11 happens on a Tuesday. I’m in my office on Wednesday, and I get a call from a pastor of a Japanese United Methodist church who says, will you come speak to my congregation on Sunday? And I’m, like, well, I’d love to, but, you know, you know I’m a scholar of Islam; like, what do you want me to come speak to your congregation? He goes, well, you have to understand, post-Pearl Harbor, very few non-Japanese stood with us. We’re going to stand with you. It was a profound moment there. I have no doubt that we, meaning American Muslims, were not interred post-9/11 precisely because the Japanese were interred, and we learned that history, you know.
And so we make those kinds of coalitions. At my university, Loyola Marymount University, it’s a Catholic university, really interesting connections there with what our bishop, Archbishop Jose Gomez has said in terms of defending immigrants, doing that kind of work, working with our Latino students, you know, the—we have Muslim student group on campus that does regular Friday prayers. And last Friday—sorry, two Fridays ago, the head of M.E.Ch.A. and some of the students from that were there, so it was a really fascinating kind of—I know that’s Mr. Trump’s worst nightmare, the Mexicans, the Muslims who are working together—(laughter)—you know, kind of thing. But all of a sudden you’re making connections with your, you know, Latino brothers and sisters—which, again, in L.A. is much easier to do than in certain other places.
So for me, that—the kind of hope is, can you make those coalitions, can we come together, can we work together? The fear is, are we going to be marginalized and singled out as if, you know, the real reason we have problems is this?
ALDEN: Shannon, same question—fears, opportunity?
O'NEIL: I think the fears that I have, some are the larger ones that we need in immigration reform here. I think everybody wherever you sit, on which side of the aisle, everyone agrees that we need a change for our immigration system for the 21st century and the problems that we have there. So the longer one is I think that is delayed further. And there is a lot of lives that are inflicted by that or had—or will face, you know, lots of families that are divided because some people have papers and some people don’t. There’s a lot of challenges and just heart-wrenching outcomes because of that.
But actually, the most sort of immediate fear I have with this election has to do with what is just a potential at this point but I think a potential that we should be prepared for, which I worry that this coming government will not either be paying attention to or may not respond in a way that I would want them to. And that is I think we have the potential to face a very significant Central American refugee crisis in the coming months and years. And when you look at particularly the countries of the Northern Triangle—these are Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador—over the last three years we have seen somewhere between 300(,000) and 400,000 citizens of those countries leave. Most of those or many of those are families and children. And they’re leaving because of violence. They’re leaving because of poverty. They’re leaving because of a record drought that has hit these nations and looks like will continue to for many years to come. And in fact, the United Nations released a report recently that said 3.5 million people in these three nations are in need of desperate humanitarian aid. So the supply of migrants looks to continue into the foreseeable future.
Now, what we have seen, in 2014 we saw a spike, if you all remember, the kids showing up at the border and then the challenges therein. Since then, 2015-2016, the numbers have been the same or even increasing, but Mexico has been stopping 150-plus thousand each year and deporting them back. So those individuals, those children, those families have not made it to the southern U.S. border.
One can imagine in a new administration the tensions with Mexico we saw much of in the campaign. We’ll see what happens when we actually have governments working each other. One could imagine that the Mexicans might be less willing and, frankly, less able to stop these flows, which are already continuing.
So you can imagine the case, even starting sometime next year, say the spring of next year when these migrations flows often pick up, where we might see somewhere between 3(00,000) and 400,000 Central American families coming to our border. And that has huge obviously political ramifications, it has huge economic ramifications, and it has huge moral implications, right? Are we this country that will be open to these refugees, or will we close ourselves? So I think there is potentially this moment, immigration moment, that is coming that will be precipitated by the Central American crisis that’s already happening.
ALDEN: Thank you, Shannon.
After Robby responds, I am going to turn to questions, so start thinking about what you want to ask our panelists here.
So, Robby, same question: fears, opportunities going forward.
JONES: Well, you know, I think the main thing, as I look at, you know, the data—just what I sort of spend my day job doing—is the uptick in fear in the population is something that I’m fearful about, you know, that—
ALDEN: We have nothing to fear but fear itself. (Laughter.)
JONES: Yeah, that we—that we see this uptick on—in very personal way. Like, when you ask Americans not just are you concerned about terrorism in general, but are you concerned that you or a member of your family will be a victim of terrorism—we’ve seen that tick up during this last election cycle.
And, you know, when—and asking a few questions like attitudes about kind of cultural change, we see a lot of fear. The country is evenly divided also on this question of whether people are bothered when they encounter immigrants when they speak little or no English. Like, that’s something that divides the country right down—that got very hot all of a sudden—and then on Islam, that on the one hand, if you ask Americans, do you think Islam is—the values of Islam are compatible with American values, way of life, six in 10 Americans say no to that question. But if you ask Americans, do you think U.S. Muslims are an important part of the religious community, six in 10 say yes, right? So we’re at this kind of conflicted kind of pointed tension, I think, on many of these fundamental issues.
One other question, tracking this question about whether newcomers to the country strengthen the country or are a threat to country. We have seen for the last five or six years very steadily either a plurality or a majority of Americans saying they strengthen American society. But in this last time we’ve asked it in 2016, the country is now back to evenly divided over this question.
Now, having said all that, where I have some places of hope is that on policy, these fears so far do not seem to have pushed Americans to a different place on policy, which is pretty interesting, right? So uptick in fears; policy attitudes are pretty flat. Just a few examples: Only four in 10 Americans favor this temporary ban on Muslims. Only four in 10 favor building a wall. Only four in 10 favor banning refugees from Syria. But there is huge partisan splits. Two-thirds of Republicans favor all of those things, right? So that’s a huge, huge partisan divide.
And the other one that’s I think stunning given the politics around this, but six in 10 Americans, ever since we’ve been tracking this issue from 2010 to forward, favor a path to citizenship for immigrants who are in the country illegally, including half of Republicans. And so far, those numbers have not shifted. And so I think that’s a—
But the real challenge—I’ll kind of close with this—is that I do think, because we have—you know, the whole melting pot metaphor depended on a kind of thing to which people were assimilating to, right, a kind of stable thing. And it tended to be a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant model of what people were assimilating into. And I think the real challenge for us today is that that thing that used to feel fairly secure in the 1920s, late 19th century, is now feeling very insecure and, in fact, is no longer even the majority of the country. And so I think this idea of a melting pot, like, the question is, like, to what, right? And I think one of the things that white Christians in the country are really having to deal with is that they’re no longer inviting other people to the table, right, but they’re finding themselves guests at a table that nobody really owns. And I think that is one of the biggest challenges we’ve got in front of us.
ALDEN: Thank you, Robby. Very interesting.
So I’m going to open it up now for questions. I think we have microphones that are going around the room. When you get the microphone, please state your name and your affiliation. And also, please try to ask a question rather than making a long statement so we can get in as many questions as possible. Let’s go with this lady here in the red.
Please stand and state your name, if you could.
Q: Hi. I’m Liz Freid. Is this on?
ALDEN: I think we got it on.
Q: From Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Well, I’m curious about two things. One is white Evangelical Christians seem to not be the majority. How did they win the election? And the second thing is how does Trump’s vision of America cohere with Evangelical Christianity?
ALDEN: I think Robby those are probably your ballpark.
JONES: All right. (Laughter.)
So on the last piece, I wrote a piece in TIME this weekend, it’s just up this weekend, taking up the how does this cohere with Evangelical Christianity. My answer is it doesn’t. What I’ve argued, as soon as Donald Trump won the South Carolina primary—that was way back in February. At that time, there was still Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, all kinds—you know, Marco Rubio, all kinds of—Ted Cruz, all kinds of other candidates who had much sort of claim to sort of be closer to the Evangelical Christian thing than Trump did.
And essentially, what I argued is that Trump has converted in this election cycle—he’s converted what used to be self-identified values voters, right? He’s converted them into what I’ve called nostalgia voters and that what became more important was upholding and preserving and holding the line to a cultural world that they felt slipping away than anything else. They became attached to this kind of strong leader, even—all kinds of questions about—do we need a strong leader who—is willing to break the rules if that’s what it takes to set things right. Seventy-five percent of Evangelicals agree with that statement in this election cycle. Evangelicals used to be the group that most—was most likely to say a politician who commits immoral acts in their personal life cannot serve faithfully in their public life. They’ve gone from only 30 percent in 2011 saying that this was—that a politician who commits an immoral in their private life, they cannot fulfill it in their public life. Only 30 percent of them said they—a politician could not do that. Today 72 percent of them say a politician can do that, can sort of make this line between their private and their personal life. So that’s that one.
How did they—how did they make an influence? First thing to say, this is the lowest-turnout election since Al Gore in 2000. So that’s one way. So when you have a low-turnout election and turnout is depressed, smaller groups are able to insert more influence. And white Evangelicals vote. So just make this concrete: In 2008, they were 21 percent of the population, but they were 26 percent of voters. This year, they were—they have slipped; they’re only 17 percent of the population. They are still 26 percent of voters because of turnout difference.
ALDEN: I think I—let’s do this gentleman right here. Can we get the microphone up here? Thank you. And I’ll try to get different parts of the room here, so—
Q: All right. We’ll have to go to somebody that’s not from Michigan next, but I’m from Detroit area. I teach at the University of Detroit Mercy. It seems to me that we’ve had a very close to a majority-minority nation at the early part of the 20th century and that right now there has been a history in our country of people climbing the ladder from immigrant status to white status. I wonder whether the close to 30 percent of Hispanic folks who voted in this election were voting and that that’s a number we’re going to see increase because they were voting their perceived white status.
ALDEN: Shannon, do you want to—do you want to talk on that one?
We did see the turnout among Hispanic voters go up significantly. And one of the challenges—and we hear a lot—we have for many electoral cycles that there is this sleeping giant, that there is this, you know, potential group to rally and that every month, 50,000 more Hispanics turn 18 and have the potential to vote, and that’s happening, and so we’re seeing this change. And frankly, up until this election, that they just haven’t turned out to vote, right? So you look at previous elections, Hispanics vote—maybe between 45 and 48 percent of Hispanics turn out to vote compared to two-thirds for whites, for Asians, for Afro-Americans and the like. So they don’t carry the weight because they don’t turn out to vote.
Now, we did see this time around that begin to change. We saw a bit of a higher percentage. Particularly in some of the most contested places in Florida and Nevada and some of these other states, you saw—you saw turnout go up. And I think that’s for a couple reasons. One is while Hispanics have many different views and they care about the economy and they care about jobs and health care and they care about all sorts of things when you look at what they care about, when you do get candidates or campaigns that are often just derogatory to their race or to their being, they—that tends to bring people out. So I think part of it was the rhetoric in the campaign brought out many Hispanics to vote.
I also think that we saw a pretty good ground game from both the candidates but particularly on the—on the Democratic side in getting these people out to vote. And you saw, if you looked at Univision and Telemundo, who are the two Spanish-language television networks here in the United States are the best-known of them, the largest ones, they had campaigns to get out there and vote. There were a lot of different efforts and different communities to try to change these, you know, quite low numbers and percentages. And so the question going forward then is, will that continue, right? If this—if these kind of issues where you’ve seen pretty vitriolic rhetoric, if those aren’t on the table, say, the next time we go to the polls, would you—will you see the groups, you know, turn out in the way they did? I mean, one of the big challenges is getting them registered in the first place. And once you’re registered and once you see that participation matters and it’s a good thing to participate, I think you may tend to see that continue.
I mean, one of the other things that has kept some people from the polls or kept people from registering to vote is that a lot of these individuals, somewhere perhaps 2 million families out there, especially Mexican-American families but other families, are a mixed status, right? So some people are U.S. citizens. They were born here or they’re legal residents and—or they’ve naturalized and become citizens. But they may have someone in their household who does not have any papers. And they’re scared to do something official, engage with the state if that might put their—someone in their family, their extended family or even a neighbor in danger just in raising the profile. So there are some of these challenges that without some sort of comprehensive immigration reform, that, you know, helps deal with the challenge of the 11-plus million people who live here in the United States without documents.
And one thing I would just say about that and then I’ll close is that of these 11 million people, two-thirds of them have been living in the United States 10 years or longer. So these are not new people who have come to the United States. They have families here. They are really integrated in our society. And so there is a fear sometimes of engaging with the state in that larger—in the larger community or engaging with the state, say, even registering to vote because you’re worried about the rest of your family. What would happen if that engagement would lead to difficult consequences?
ALDEN: And we’re going to—and we’re just—a note, we’re going to get a test to that because of course, all these young people who came forward in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA—
O'NEIL: Yeah, the dreamers, the dreamers, yes. Yeah.
ALDEN: —750,000 are now registered with the government. And if Trump rescinds that executive order, they’re going to back to an unauthorized status.
O'NEIL: They’re going to be—yeah.
ALDEN: Cris Arcos. And great to see you, by the way.
Q: Cris Arcos, retired Foreign Service officer. Welcome, Edward and Shannon and your colleagues in San Antonio.
O'NEIL: Hi, Cris.
Q: Let me just say this. When we hear Latinos being compared to—
ALDEN: Hold the microphone close, please, just like you—yeah.
Q: —to immigrants, I’m reminded of the fact that there were several thousand immigrants, so-called immigrants, in this state in 1836 when we—the Republic of Texas was led by Anglo-Saxons from Mississippi and Alabama, and they were in the Southwest thousands of—so we were never really immigrants. We were captive, conquered people. And the Cubans and the Puerto Ricans later conquered with the war with Spain. So that perception—we didn’t have the Statue of Liberty—we didn’t have a(n) Ellis Island experience. And quite frankly, the at-large population doesn’t see us that way. They see us as someone different.
And what you were explaining about the Latinos, it’s a very confused picture, the whites versus nonwhites, the immigrant versus the conquered people theory. Let me say this: In this election, there was something that we Americans are very uncomfortable with, and it’s class; the whole class issue was there. The media, the liberal media, so-called media, they would—did not want to talk about it. The underclass did suggest it. And so, quite frankly—
ALDEN: Do you have a question? Is there a question out of this—
Q: Yes, the question is, do you—how do you class playing out in this? Shannon, you—
ALDEN: Yeah, and maybe—Amir, maybe you could start with that because I think one of the interesting things about Muslim immigrants is generally in class terms. They’re quite successful, right?
HUSSAIN: That’s right. And yeah, and so a funny kind of moment where when I came to the U.S. 20 years ago, California still had their data collection. And, you know, you have to check off who you are. And you have your own (practicalities ?) in Canada. First one in California was white non-Hispanic. And I’m, like, what does that mean? That if you speak Spanish, you’re not a white person? Like, you know, where does that—so those kinds of things.
As I said, for me, growing up working class, that was a difference. I thought, like, we don’t talk about class in this country. And I saw that as a working-class kid there.
For Muslims, you know, we’re in that upper-class kind of thing. Like, your average Muslim is going to be someone like me, you know, who’s a professional, you know, like a doctor, a lawyer, engineer, professor, business owner in that kind of way. And so the issues of immigration let’s say are very different—you’re talking about refugees, you know, that kind of thing, which, depending where you live—you know, Iowa, where you settle Sudanese refugees, or Minnesota, where you settle Somali refugees—how are they going to fit in, where does that come in. And that’s where you often bring in the class issues that come up.
But, you know, in another funny kind of way, you know, you think, going back to your question about the optimism, you know, Mr. Trump has gone really good business with the Muslim world. You know, you look at the stuff in Dubai, you look at the stuff in the Emirates, there’s a Trump Towers in Istanbul. So, you know, I think at a certain level it’s a—you know, if you’re dealing with rich folks, it’s perfectly fine. It’s the poor folks that give you problems.
ALDEN: Maybe that’ll be positive thing, he’ll want to protect his property.
Shannon, did you want to add anything, or—
O'NEIL: No, but I’d like to hear your take on it because you’re writing about class in your book, or—in some ways.
ALDEN: Well, I—I mean, the way I would answer Chris is that I think—and just quickly, you know, we have been through a period of very, very rapid change. And a lot of it has been economic, having to do with globalization and technology. But the changing face of America, which is the topic here, through immigration, has also been a—been a big factor as well. I think what we saw in this election was a lot of people standing up and saying change is coming too fast, and we don’t like what it’s done to us.
And I do think collectively, there were a lot of mistakes made in managing the pace of change. I won’t make an argument as to whether we should have slowed it down necessarily, but I certainly will make an argument that we should have done more to help Americans adapt successfully to the pace of change. But that just hasn’t been in the American DNA historically. We think, you know, let the market work, and people will sort themselves out. But I think we find there’s a price to that. So that would be my two cents.
Let’s go back to this side of the room here. This gentleman right here.
Q: It seems like Donald Trump has—
ALDEN: Sorry, can you identify yourself, please, and—
Q: Oh, I’m sorry. John Brunt, La Sierra University.
ALDEN: Thank you.
Q: It seems like Donald Trump has scapegoated Mexicans and taking jobs elsewhere as the reason there are no factory jobs and has promised people that these factory jobs are coming back. I live right now two miles from the largest building by volume in the world in Mukilteo, Washington, where Boeing puts together its 747s and 787s and 777s. And as I go through that building, the thing that amazes me is how few people are on those assembly lines and what machines are doing without people there. What’s going to happen, do you think, in the future when people find out that the real problem is not just that Mexicans have taken their jobs but that the world is different technologically?
ALDEN: Would the panelists mind if I answered that one as well?
O'NEIL: Go for it. (Laughter.)
ALDEN: Because it is actually right what I’ve been working on.
I mean, the amazing changes that we’ve seen are not just a feature of trade, right? They’re a feature of technology. And I wrote a piece with Vivek Wadhwa, who is a kind of futurist in Silicon Valley, that appeared in The Washington Post a couple weeks ago. And basically, what we argued is we need to learn the lessons from the era of globalization when we didn’t do a very good job of helping people adjust to the coming era of technological change. There are 3 ½ million truck drivers in this country, and a lot of them are the same demographic as the folks who lost factory jobs—you know, middle-aged men, mostly. Well, driverless technology is coming and coming fast, and those people are going to lose their jobs. And what are we going to do with them? And there are more and more waves coming. And I really think as a country we have to figure out how to help people adapt to these changes.
The short answer is, you know, to quote Bruce Springsteen in your hometown, they say these jobs are going, boy, and they ain’t coming back. And I think that’s true, and I think a lot of Trump supporters are going to be disappointed on that front.
Can we go back to this side here, in the back here. Gentleman in the gray suit. To your left here. To your left here. Sir. Sir. Microphone to your left, to your left coming. Here we go.
Q: A lot of this conversation has been about—
ALDEN: Again, please introduce yourself. Thank you.
Q: I’m Douglas Jacobsen from Pennsylvania.
ALDEN: Thank you.
Q: A lot of the conversation has been about some of the macro issues behind this election. And that kind of conversation assumes there’s a rationality to what’s going on. This is also—I’d like to ask a more micro question. This is an election where the two candidates had the highest negatives of any election in time. People—what percentage of people were simply voting against regardless of these big questions, and how does that affect how we interpret this? We still have to come to grips with a Trump presidency, but interpreting how we got there is different than if you’re looking at some of this chance stuff of a micro choice between two very unpopular people versus these macro issues.
ALDEN: Rob, you want to tackle that?
JONES: Yeah, I’ll jump in on that.
So, you know, one of the—kind of back to, like, don’t over-interpret this election, right? Because the truth is the patterns are very, very similar. And you’re right, but I’d even go a step further. I would say that if we had said for this election cycle, we’re going to dispense with our normal candidacy, primary process, what we’re going to do is we’re just going to have an election between the Republican Party ticket and the Democratic Party ticket, and we’re going to let the parties pick the candidates after the election happens, right—(laughter)—that we would end up almost exactly where we ended up.
And part of that is the—is that one of the things that I think is happening in our politics is that, you know, each candidate, no matter how unpopular they are, basically start with 45 percent base of support, right? And then we’re just fighting over, like, 10 percent of people who might not be undecided, you know. It’s certainly single digits of people who are undecided in any given election at the national level.
And I think it’s a real troubling thing because, like, one of the things that’s happening is as we’ve sorted ourselves out, right, these divides are all moving people into these two groups in same directions, right? So we saw the biggest urban-rural divide that we’ve seen in any election in this season. We saw a huge generational divide. Hillary Clinton won Americans under 45 by about 6 million votes, and Donald Trump won Americans over 45 by about 6 million votes, you know. So it’s urban-rural. It’s generational. It’s ethnic. It’s religious. And all of these things are sort of pushing people into two camps or two tribes. And I think the challenge is that once those things sort of meld together, race, that your race, your religion, all that stuff starts really taken under the umbrella of partisanship, it becomes a very difficult to think outside of those boxes for people. And that’s why it doesn’t matter that two candidates were the most unpopular we’ve ever seen.
One very quick digression. There was a great study out of Stanford in the 1960s that asked how—going home for—going home for Thanksgiving—that asked, how disturbed you would be if a close—if a member of your family married someone of the opposite political party, right? In the 1960s, it’s only single digits. Huffington Post/YouGov re-asked this question in the context of this election. It’s half of the country now say. So people aren’t just sort of taking their partisanship to the ballot box. They’re, like, taking it to bed with them right now. (Laughter.) And, like, that is, like, troubling for democracy, I think.
ALDEN: And maybe troubling for your love life, too.
JONES: Yeah, could be. Yeah. (Laughter.)
ALDEN: This gentleman here in the middle.
Q: Ron Stone from Pittsburgh. Do we have data on the influence of the NRA in this election?
ALDEN: Robby, have you got any quick stuff?
JONES: I don’t have anything directly on that, yeah.
ALDEN: Yeah. Anybody? No. Sorry, I don’t think anybody here has looked to that.
We’ll go to the woman here with the glasses right there. Yes, you. Yep. Here. Get you right there. Thank you.
Q: Yes. Gayle Panyani (ph), Rice University, Houston.
One topic that has gone unaddressed is the specter of deportation. We’re very concerned about our vulnerable populations in Houston. And so my question is, how do we—how do we resist that effort? And yeah, would you please address deportation and this 2 or 3 million targeted group? Thank you.
ALDEN: Shannon, Amir, either of you?
O'NEIL: Sure. I’m happy to say a few words, and then I’ll hand it off to you.
I mean, this is what Trump has said. He threw out this number of 2 to 3 million. By all studies, there are not 2 to 3 million hardened criminals. But it’s hard to tell what criminal behavior means. Does criminal behavior mean crossing the border illegally? Then yes, there are 2 to 3 million people, right?
And one thing that I also find somewhat worrisome is that the Obama administration itself ramped up deportations significantly, had deported a record number of individuals, who has increased the capacity of the federal government to deport individuals, even as the Obama administration signed executive orders, the DACA and DAPA, so the dreamers and then—and then parents of those in these mixed status. And the worrisome part there is, as Ted was saying, there is 750,000 young people who are registered now with the federal government, so they know where these dreamers are, right, in many ways, and the hope that that would continue.
And we will see what happens when Trump begins his administration. He could rescind those executive orders. He has said he’ll rescind many executive orders, so will those be one? He could also just not renew them a year from now, and so then they, too, would not—would no longer be in effect. And I do think this is worrisome. And so as communities, and you think about trying to keep families and communities together, many of these individuals could desperately use legal help—not that their options are particularly broad, but at least there are some legal—there are things that may be useful and good legal counsel and support.
And then just back to the other comment that I had made, particularly about not just those that are here but those that may be coming, and particularly from Central America—and many of these children or families that are coming, they’re coming to the United States because they have ties here to the United States, so they may be entering your communities, particularly if you have Central American families already in your midst. And in 2014, when this wave happened, they interviewed a lot of people coming. And 90 percent of those that were coming either had a mother or father or other close relative living in the United States. So they’re coming here because they have someone to come to here.
And so if we see these families coming—and many of them are going to apply for asylum. They’re coming to apply for asylum. And probably many of them, especially the children, quite justified. But if they do not have legal representation, which the U.S. government does not have to provide, you literally have cases of 4-year-olds trying to defend themselves in court and trying—being—having to say certain words, or else they will get deported back to a horrible situation. So if there is one thing that you all can do and others can do is help provide the support in your communities or elsewhere, one, further just their care and well-being and that’s—but also legal representation, so a four- and a 5-year-old is not representing themselves in court.
HUSSAIN: Yeah, just—let me follow up on—
O'NEIL: I will try to find out. There are organizations that do this. And I will try to find a name that we can—we can share.
ALDEN: If you look—American Immigration Lawyers Association, AILA, is often a pipeline into this. There are others as well.
HUSSAIN: Just a quick follow-up on that on two different fronts. So my wife teaches fourth grade in Burbank. And for me, that’s the real issue because she’s dealing with 9-year-olds who may be the only speaker in their family who have to explain to their parents what’s going on. And a 9-year-old has to do this kind of thing to tell mom, because she’s illegal, that she may have to go back. You know, it’s those kinds—so I would start with your local schools.
Now, part of it depends on where are you. You know, here in San Antonio, huge issue, transborder families. You know, I was here two months ago giving a talk at St. Mary’s University, you know, where you start talking about these—in Los Angeles, in my university, all those kinds of questions there. Now, we’re an interesting place because the chief of the police, Charlie Beck, has gone on record saying that the LAPD will not do immigration enforcement; you want to bring in federal agency, perfectly fine, but LAPD is not going to do that. We’re a Catholic university, and so there’s interesting talks around, you know, the sanctuary status of the chapel, you know, where that comes in, faculty trying to create, you know, say, declare the university sanctuary. I’m actually not in favor of that because to me, it’s like, that’s a symbolic gesture. As much as I like symbolic gestures, that’s not going to help, you know, someone who’s actually going to be deported. I want something real in play. Sure, it’s nice to have that; sure, it’s nice to say, we—you know, we support you and stand with you. But if—that’s not going to prevent officers from coming on and taking kids away, that—huge issues there.
One more thing about the Catholic part of that is that, you know, you have Archbishop Gomez, you know, who’s born in Mexico, who talks about immigration and becoming sort of moved up to, like, number two in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and how much that is a direct respond to President Trump—you know, really interesting kinds of things there.
ALDEN: Yeah, I do—I would reinforce—I think the cities are very important here because urban police departments are often the pipeline, and we’ve seen a lot of resistance from cities.
I really just have time for two more questions. I’m afraid I’m going to take this young woman here and this woman here. So maybe just ask your questions back to back, and I’ll—and I’ll let the panelists choose on respond.
Q: Hi. (Inaudible)—University of Kansas.
And I—in hearing everyone talk about this, it’s really hard not to draw parallels to Brexit and the voter demographics there and the anti-immigration stances on that. And I was wondering if your—what your thoughts were on if this was indicative of a larger Western attitude rather than just an American attitude.
ALDEN: So—and let’s take the second question too and then—and then I’ll allow the panelists to respond.
I think it’s—yeah.
Q: OK. Just about the—
ALDEN: Could you identify yourself? Sorry. Thank you.
Q: Oh. Annie Tinsley, Shaw University Divinity School.
My question is about the Electoral College. What are your views whether it is—has an effect? Will it affect anything if it goes away, or what?
ALDEN: I don’t know, Robert, do you want to—do you want to take a cut at either or both of those, or, you know, other countries and—
So the Brexit parallel, I mean, is obvious—is there. It’s absolutely there. And I think we’re seeing it’s not just England; it’s sort of France and India, and there’s other places you can look at see kind of similar kinds of dynamics. And it’s actually something the religion and politics section here was talking about. I think we actually do a call for papers. That’s going to be one of the key things we’re including is kind of look at the patterns in the international context here. But I think there is a lot more work that needs to be done kind of flesh that out.
On the Electoral College, I mean, there’ll certainly be a discussion about that. And, you know, Donald Trump has certainly switched from being an opponent of the Electoral College to supporter of the Electoral College—(laughter)—you know, right before and after—right after the election.
But it is notable that, you know, again, it changes our perception, right, that Hillary Clinton’s up now 1.1 million votes. That’s almost—
ALDEN: 1.6 most recently.
JONES: Oh, it’s 1.6. Yeah. Yeah. So OK, so it’s 1 percent then—crossed the 1 percent victory line, you know. And yet, if you just look at that red and blue state thing, it doesn’t look like that in the country. And it’s—there’s a thing out in The New York Times today about the disproportionate impact of rural America on the election that I think is really interesting to look at. So I’m sure it’ll be an ongoing discussion. I have my doubts about whether it’s going anywhere.
ALDEN: Did you want to weigh in here, Amir?
HUSSAIN: Just one thing there bringing the Canadian part of that. So talking about different countries, you know—I was really—a dual citizen, I was really proud last year when the Canadian government—or when the Canadian people elected, you know, a government where the conservatives were basically saying, look, the issue of our time is Muslim women in niqab taking citizenship oath, and there’s literally two of them, you know. We don’t really care—it’s not a high priority for our government was what Prime Minister Harper used of the thousand aboriginal women missing, presumed murdered. And Canadians saying, come on. Two women taking the oath in niqab, that’s not a threat to who we are as a—as a people; the thousand, 1,200 missing aboriginal women, maybe we should be paying attention to that. And so I think do you pay attention to what’s really affecting you, or do you believe the hype that comes in? My worry is, you know, what happens to the rest of Europe, what happens in Austria, what happens in Germany, you know, here?
ALDEN: Those were efficient, so I can actually squeeze in one more, if anybody has a—has a burning final question. I’ll go to this gentleman right here—or no, excuse me, a woman, excuse me, I apologize—right here. (Chuckles.) My mistake. Sorry. Please.
Q: Yes. I have a question about—
ALDEN: Sorry, you are—
Q: Oh, I’m sorry. My name is Sheryl Sanders (sp), and I live in Washington, D.C.
My question is about a word that I’ve heard in the past two weeks, “normalization.” And it is—will the normalization of Trump’s social vision attract immigrants and African-Americans who would not have voted for him? Now, I have in mind a question that was asked earlier that wasn’t answered about immigrants identifying as white, but I’m wondering if four years from now, looking ahead, we can expect African-Americans and immigrants to have bought into the normalization of his vision?
ALDEN: I mean, that’s—I find that a fascinating—I mean, I’m going to get Shannon and Amir to finish up, but it’s a fascinating question because I think the Democrats for a long time have been assuming, you know, the demographics are changing in our favor, and we just keep playing the identity politics, and we’re going to end up over the top. But maybe it won’t play out that way. I don’t know. Amir—
HUSSAIN: Just the identity part, you know, it surprises most people when they learn that in the 2000 elections, American Muslims voted for George W. Bush, you know. Most voted Republican in 2000. You know, it’s that—most didn’t vote Republican in 2004. You know, it’s precisely that, like, you know, what are the values here that you’re representing there? And it’s—does it have to do with racial kinds of things, or is it more, you know, you’re socially and fiscally conservative, therefore, you may lean this way rather than that way, irrespective—regardless of race or ethnicity?
O'NEIL: I mean, I would say—I mean, Robby, you presented pretty compelling evidence that those divides were over many elections between races and the like. I mean, the one other thing too I would say from political science that we know is that political identities tend to be sticky. So if you in your first election you vote Democrat, or your first election you vote Republican, the chances of you continuing to do that throughout your life are pretty high. And particularly if you’re scorned among your family for marrying across parties, your tribe, your cohort, your family, your community is increasingly likely to be quite partisan, which would keep that stickiness and make it stronger.
So if this election—and let me end on a hopeful note, perhaps—
O'NEIL: —particularly for those issues—if this election turned out more Latinos, which we saw it did, and it turned out more Afro-Americans—it turned out pretty strong groups, at least in some areas—and for those that it was their first time voting, they voted Democratic, they’re likely to stick with that. And others—you know, the same on the Republican side; people who voted for the first time for Trump say they’re likely to stick with that as well. So I think that is something to consider as we look forward for eight and whatever years.
ALDEN: Well, you know, I think judging from the number of hands that were still out there, we could keep this discussion going for another hour. But we are at our 1:00 closing time. Let’s thank our panelists for an incredibly rich discussion. (Applause.)
HUSSAIN: And thank you to Ted—thank you, Ted, for your work here.