Kotkin: “What Will Our Latino Future Look Like?”

In “What Will Our Latino Future Look Like?”, demographer Joel Kotkin (who is not a conservative, it should be noted, and who is also a CA native) takes a hard look at illegal immigration and its impact on CA’s trajectory:

President Obama’s amnesty edict, likely to be the first of other such measures, all but guarantees California’s increasingly Latino future. But, sadly, for all the celebration among progressives, the media, Democratic politicans and in the Latino political community, there has been precious little consideration about the future of the newly legalized immigrants, as well as future generations of Latinos, in the state.

Although some publications, notably the New York Times, regard California as something of a model for the integration of the undocumented, the reality on the ground is far less attractive. Even as Latinos, now the state’s largest ethnic group, gain greater influence culturally and politically, many are falling into a kind of racial caste system…

Today, public agencies in Los Angeles County, notes former county supervisor Pete Schabarum, are facing a “an already impossible fiscal dilemma” and now will need to spend an additional $190 million, without hope of federal compensation, on the newly legalized population. The stress on other key institutions, such as schools and hospitals, will also grow, particularly if more foreign nationals, suspecting the likelihood of amnesty, are encouraged to come here.

In the past, we could have looked with confidence at this new population as a net plus. But that may no longer be so much the case, given the current economic direction of California. It has become increasingly difficult in the state for many industries – such as agriculture, manufacturing, construction and logistics – that traditionally have employed Latino immigrants. In contrast, the one industry favored by Sacramento’s political class – the technology firms synonymous with Silicon Valley – has not engendered much progress for Latinos, whose incomes there have dropped while those of whites and Asians have grown.

Of CA vs. some other states:

This explains how California increasingly diverges both from the experience of other immigrants over the past century, and what is occurring today in some other states. In Georgia, Kansas and Nevada, as well as Texas, upward of 40 percent of Latino voters this year supported GOP candidates, compared with more than 70 percent lockstep support for Democrats in California.

The problem here is not party per se – traditional Democrats historically combined liberal views with a strong pro-growth economic orientation. But we now see a shift within California Latino politicians away from support for broad-based growth and toward a greater reliance on redistribution and increased dependence on government. This approach may hurt their constituents but conveniently aligns with the preferences of wealthy white liberals in Marin County, San Francisco and other gentry locales, whose interest is to restrain economic growth.

One has to wonder, in my case as a non-Latino Californian here for over four decades, where this will all lead. One consequence could be to increase the state’s already large population living in poverty and boost California’s share of welfare recipients, roughly a third of the national total. The potential long term for a dangerous cocktail of racial and class resentment is not hard to envision.

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