People in my generation grew up in an exceptional period in American history where the population was unusually homogenous. People were either white or black. In the 1950s and 1960s, foreign born immigrants of all kinds made up only 4.5% of the population, and most of those were older and European.
Since the 1970s, the USA is returning to something like the polyglot population of the late 19th century, from roughly 1850 to 1912, when perhaps as much as 15% of the population was foreign born, and from everywhere. The current estimate for foreign born population, legal and illegal, is about 12.5%, still short of its height in the late 19th century.
People born after 1965 experienced a very different America from my generation, and are themselves much more diverse, and much more comfortable navigating across cultural differences. I see this in my own students. I notice students from Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, West Africa, and Eastern Europe freely socializing and even dating each other. For me, this is astonishing. For them, it is a commonplace barely worth noticing.
Once again, I'm out of step with my own generation. When they were reading Abby Hoffman, I was reading the Boy Scout Handbook. When they were going all corporate and Ayn Rand, I was exploring socialism. And now, when they are panicking over the invasion of the swarthy hordes, I'm actually happy about it and see it as testimony to the success of the United States. In my own small way, I'm involved in this transformation as an educator, and I take tremendous satisfaction from it. I am confident that the USA will endure and be renewed. I'm sure that the future population a century from now will be very different in appearance and customs from the population I grew up with. But then, the population I grew up with was sharply different from the population from the previous 100 years.
I agree with those who think that this could be a big loser of an issue for Republicans in the coming elections. People for whom immigration really is a big threatening issue would probably vote Republican anyway. The people who will most likely be motivated to turn out in droves to vote because of immigration are Latinos and other immigrant groups. They will almost certainly not vote Republican.
Has it really been that long ago when Ronald Reagan declared that Latinos were naturally Republicans? I can remember when Lee Atwater urged Republican candidates to actively campaign for Latino votes with Spanish language ads. But then, that was back in that far off time when American Muslims were among the Republicans' most loyal and reliable voting constituencies.
Where are the snows of yesteryear?