Our VoiceImmigration

Anti-immigrant movement divided on plan to obstruct administrative relief

Imagine 2050 Staff • Nov 18, 2014

As Republicans prepare to control both chambers of Congress for the first time since 2006, there is a growing divide among the party’s membership on how to – or not to – govern going forward. The organized anti-immigrant movement also appears to be divided. Just like Republican lawmakers, the anti-immigrant activists are struggling to form a cohesive response to impending administrative relief President Obama says he will lawfully provide to an estimated 4.5 million undocumented immigrants.

In advocating for such nativist policies, the anti-immigrant movement doesn’t just hurt immigrants, it harms us all.

Such a divide is rare for a movement that frequently coordinates around its messaging and policies. The divide also reveals how stridently determined one of its leading organizations is to malign immigrants – even if doing so could result in a government shutdown that can have debilitating consequences for the economy and American workers.

On Nov. 5, the day after the midterm elections, five senators led by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL) wrote to current Senate Marjority Leader Harry Reid (R-NV) and vowed to “use all procedural means necessary” to prevent President Obama from implementing administrative relief. The most likely way to do this is by adding language to legislation to fund the government after current resolution doing so expires next month.

While the senators did not explicitly state it in their letter, it is plain to see what they were threatening: another government shutdown.

Sen. Cruz, of course, is no stranger to government shutdowns. He was the leading force behind last year’s shutdown that some of his colleagues described as “shameful” and an “agonizing odyssey.”

“Certainly, it has not been good for the party to be associated with the government shutdown,” soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said at the time.

In this latest effort to enact extreme policies by any means necessary, Cruz has another ally within the Beltway – the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). As it told members in a Nov. 10 email alert (emphasis FAIR’s):

“Congress has an opportunity before the end of the year stop the President. On December 12, funding for the federal government runs out and Congress must pass a new spending bill to keep the government running. This funding bill — whatever form it takes — MUST have a provision in there that prohibits the Executive Branch from using any money appropriated by Congress to carry out an executive amnesty program!”

Other Beltway anti-immigrant groups, by contrast, appear to be taking a slightly more measured approach in their efforts to halt President Obama’s planned administrative relief.

“We would love to have the fight in the lame duck, just to make Senate Dems vote for amnesty,” NumbersUSA Director of Government Relations Rosemary Jenks told Breitbart News on Nov. 6, “but I don’t think it’s reasonable for us to ask Republicans to risk shutting down the government in the lame duck, which is what would happen if they put the defund language in either omnibus or a CR [continuing resolution].”

Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), laid out a similar strategy in a Nov. 13 blog post for National Review Online urging a short-term funding bill that a Republican-majority Congress could revisit next year.

As a reminder, last year’s government shutdown took “$24 billion out of the economy and cut 0.6% off of yearly fourth quarter GDP growth.” The immigration reform bill passed by the Senate in 2013 that FAIR and the anti-immigrant adamantly opposed over the past two years would add an estimated $800 billion to the economy and, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), would increase GDP by 3.3% in its first ten years. Last year’s shutdown also saw 800,000 federal workers furloughed – forcing many workers to slash expenses, tap retirement savings, and take second jobs. The CBO also predicted the Senate bill would increase the labor force while not increasing unemployment.

In advocating for such nativist policies, the anti-immigrant movement doesn’t just hurt immigrants, it harms us all.

So, is FAIR really going to continue supporting Cruz and Sessions’ efforts to deprive some immigrants of much needed relief from a deportation system that wreaks havoc on families and communities – no matter the cost?

If their past efforts working against the best interests of this country are any indication, then yes, they will.

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