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California as a Microcosm of Changing U.S. Demographics

February 17, 2013

The Sunday New York Times contains a profile of California’s changing demographics and the way in which they have impacted attitudes about immigration.

“The political calculus has changed dramatically,” said Manuel Pastor, a demographer and professor of American studies at the University of Southern California. “Immigrants are an accepted part of public life here. And California is America fast-forward. What happened to our demographics between 1980 and 2000 is almost exactly what will happen to the rest of the country over the next 30 years.”  . . .

“The fact that the Republican Party got identified with anti-immigration has made things very difficult for them,” said Mark Baldassare, the president of the Public Policy Institute of California, which closely monitors shifts in the state. “It is what is going on nationally now, but California started much earlier.”

Comments in the article from Orange County Republican Party Chairman Scott Baugh embody this changing attitude.

To constantly refer to undocumented immigrants as illegals is very hostile and self-righteous,” Mr. Baugh said. “Let’s point out that while crossing the border without documents is illegal, a federal misdemeanor, being in this country as an immigrant isn’t a criminal act.” (Emphasis added.)

Still, when Mr. Baugh made similar comments at the party’s county convention recently, he was not met with wild applause. Indeed, one could be forgiven for mistaking him for a liberal, a notion he dismisses with a scoff.

“We have to be looking at basic notions of justice and equity and fairness,” he said. “In many instances, these immigrants have been hired by American companies, so if you want to hang your hat on the rule of law, focus on that.”

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