Nativism (politics)

Nativism is the political policy of promoting the interests of native inhabitants against those of immigrants,[1] including by supporting immigration-restriction measures.[2]

In scholarly studies nativism is a standard technical term. Those who hold this political view, however, do not typically accept the label. Dindar (2009) wrote, "nativists... do not consider themselves as nativists. For them it is a negative term and they rather consider themselves as 'Patriots'".[3]

Arguments for immigration restriction

According to Fetzer (2000), opposition to immigration commonly arises in many countries because of issues of national, cultural, and religious identity. The phenomenon has been studied especially in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as in continental Europe. Thus nativism has become a general term for "opposition to immigration" based on fears that the immigrants will distort or spoil existing cultural values.[4] In situations where immigrants greatly outnumber the original inhabitants,[5] nativistic movements can allow cultural survival. The claim that immigrants can "swamp" a local population is related to birth rate relative to nationals. Contemporary opponents of immigration blame it for such problems as unemployment, crime (especially through gangs), harm to the environment, housing shortage, and overwhelming social services such as hospitals, police.

Immigration restrictionist sentiment is typically justified with one or more of the following arguments and claims about immigrants:[6]

  • Government expense: Government expenses may exceed tax revenue relating to new immigrants.[7]
  • Language: Isolate themselves in their own communities and refuse to learn the local language.
  • Employment: Acquire jobs that would have otherwise been available to native citizens, depressing native employment; create an oversupply of labor, depressing wages.
  • Patriotism: Damage a sense of community and nationality.
  • Environment: Increase the consumption of scarce resources; their move from low- to high-pollution economies increases pollution.
  • Welfare: Make heavy use of social welfare systems.
  • Overpopulation: May overpopulate countries.
  • Culture: Can swamp a native population and replace its culture with their own.
  • Housing: Increase in housing costs: migrant families can reduce vacancies and cause rent increases.
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