Immigration: The Media's 'White District' Lie

One of the biggest of many falsehoods circulating in the mainstream media about immigration reform is that House Republicans feel no pressure to pass a bill because they represent predominantly "white" districts--as if opposition to the "Gang of Eight" legislation were based on racial prejudice, not policy or principle. 

The Associated Press took things further Wednesday in an article about Paul Ryan's immigration stance: "...House Republicans in gerrymandered districts with few Hispanic voters," it argued, "have shown little inclination for addressing a path to citizenship, let alone an urgency to deal with immigration at all."

The implication is that Republicans--who controlled most of the redistricting processes at the state level after the 2010 midterm wave--gerrymandered "white" districts for themselves, excluding Hispanic voters and thus ensuring their perpetual re-election regardless of their positions on immigration reform.

In fact, the reason that Republicans generally have few Hispanics in their districts has everything to do with liberal politics and jurisprudence, and almost nothing to do with Republicans. By law, amazingly, Hispanics and blacks are concentrated into "majority-minority" districts to ensure that Hispanics and blacks win seats.

The idea here, dating from the civil rights era, is that white prejudice against minorities would prove so difficult an obstacle that Hispanics and blacks would never achieve representation in Congress even close to proportional to their numbers in the general population, and hence must be protected by special districts.

These districts often provide the worst examples of gerrymandering the American congressional map has to offer. The fourth district of Illinois, for example, is known as the "Latin earmuffs" because it connects two pockets of Hispanic voters--Puerto Ricans and Mexicans--in different, distant neighborhoods of Chicago.

American society has moved on, of course--so much so that Barack Obama swept to victory in the Iowa caucuses past his 2008 rivals, so much so that Tim Scott could be elected to the House from a rural and largely white district in South Carolina that had not elected a black representative since the Reconstruction era.

But the majority-minority system, like the "preclearance" section of the Voting Rights Act whose demise is being treated as an outrage by the President, the Attorney General, the NAACP and the mainstream media, has created a new group of political insiders and gatekeepers who are determined to resist any change.

So it is here to stay. The result is that Hispanic and black voters crammed into urban districts suffer the very worst incumbents our political system has managed to produce. A younger Obama found out the hard way in 2000 how difficult it is even for a Democrat to dislodge the most decrepit of incumbents in those districts.

The irony is that a system designed and enforced by liberals has produced the circumstance in which many Republicans serve at the mercy of their most conservative voters. That--and not alleged Republican racism--is what may stop a bad immigration bill. It's a bed liberals have made, and they should lie in it--not about it.


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