Immigration, Race and Populism: Politics and Policy from Colonialism to Brexit
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With images of children in cages, separated from their parents, and would-be migrants floating on overloaded boats in the Mediterranean becoming fixtures in the news media, politicians are struggling to find solutions to the ongoing issues related to migrant flows. Immigration has become a flashpoint not only in the U.S., but it has also had an impact on the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, led to instability in Angela Merkel’s government in Germany, and has influenced the rise of populist parties across Europe. Since I began studying the politics of immigration in the 1990s, it is difficult to think of a time that the issue has had more of an impact on politics. This brief overview of immigration policy developments in the U.S. and Europe explains how policy toward migrants has interacted with attitudes toward racial and religious minorities over time. Many studies have shown that recent voting behavior in the U.S. and Europe has been tied to racism and xenophobia. This will continue to be a challenge to democratic values as “white” populations become the minority amidst demographic change.