In 1994, California Governor Pete Wilson aired television ads showing people scrambling across the Mexican border near San Diego. “The rules are being broken,” a narrator intoned. “Pete Wilson has had the courage to say enough is enough.” Wilson, who at one point trailed in the polls, ended up cruising to an easy re-election.

Two decades later, the rhetoric around immigration hasn’t changed much — just look at Virginia, where long-shot challenger Dave Brat upset Eric Cantor in part by promising to “secure the border” and “reject any proposal that grants amnesty” to undocumented immigrants.

But while the rhetoric has stayed largely the same, immigration hasn’t. The immigration debate, now as then, focuses primarily on illegal immigration from Latin America. Yet most new immigrants aren’t Latinos. Most Latinos aren’t immigrants. And, based on the best available evidence, there are fewer undocumented immigrants in the U.S. today than there were in 2007. Even the latest immigration crisis — a sudden influx of unaccompanied minors, for which President Barack Obama requested $4 billion in emergency funding to address on Tuesday — represents a break from past patterns: The children are from Central America, not Mexico, and are primarily escaping violence in their home countries, rather than seeking jobs in the U.S.

via Immigration Is Changing Much More Than the Immigration Debate | FiveThirtyEight.