Jeb Bush majored in Latin American studies, speaks Spanish fluently, and married a Mexican. But some other southern Republicans aren’t so accommodating. 538’s Ed Kilgore notes that GOP candidates across the Southeast are rushing to one-up the new Arizona law. Alabama’s Tim James wants everyone to speak English; Georgia’s Nathan Deal hopes to introduce a bill modeled after Arizona’s; and South Carolina’s Andre Bauer suggested that the Mexicans encourage welfare recipients to act like “stray animals."
We might expect this faction of the GOP to embrace tough measures on immigration (as opposed to say, the Tom Donohue faction), but upon looking at the maps, it is evident their white working class constituency actually has faced the biggest “shock” of Hispanic immigration in the last decade.
The Southwest is certainly the most saturated with Hispanic immigrants, but the Southeast has had the greatest rise. In order of Hispanic change nationwide, from 2000-2008:
South Carolina: 96.3% Tennessee: 90.8% Arkansas: 84.0% North Carolina: 83.0% South Dakota: 82.4% Alabama: 79.2% Georgia: 79.1% Kentucky: 74.3%
Of course, the Hispanic population in many of these states is still small, but the “shock” is the highest.