Our VoiceImmigration

Anti-Immigrant Movement Responds to Immigration Principles

Imagine 2050 Staff • Feb 03, 2014

House Republican leadership unveiled its long awaited list of immigration reform “principles” last Thursday during a conference retreat. The principles have been outlined in a document titled “Standards for Immigration Reform.” Among other things, the principles include calls for stronger enforcement measures, an ability for undocumented immigrants to gain legal status, and a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants.

John Boehner

As to be expected, the anti-immigrant movement and its allies in Congress have been actively opposed to policies proposed in these principles before they were even released. This was best illustrated by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) – who, armed with misleading research and talking points provided by anti-immigrant organizations like the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), had his staff deliver a 30-page memo to all House Republicans before they left for the party retreat. Since the reform principles were made public, the anti-immigrant movement has continued the outright opposition to even the most modest immigration reform proposals it expressed over the last year.

“In short, the principles offered by the House leadership not only ignore the core interests of the American people,” FAIR’s President Dan Stein said in a statement responding to the principles, “they willingly sacrifice those interests to satisfy the demands of powerful special interest groups.” Stein’s declaration runs contrary to repeated polling that evidences public support for reform.

Others including CIS executive director Mark Krikorian maintain that Republicans should continue refusing to act on the issue. In an article for National Review after the principles unveiling, Krikorian wrote, “Why is this document being released at all?” Krikorian also seemingly endorsed Weekly Standard editor William Kristol’s oppositional stance. As Kristol bluntly proposed in a recent article: “No immigration votes in 2014. Kill the bills.” This tactic, of course, ignores the political reality Republicans face with a growing demographic of voters that have become disillusioned with the party’s inaction on immigration since the 2012 elections.

With the aide of Sen. Sessions, anti-immigrant members of the House will continue their obstructionist practices from last year in hopes of effectively killing any progress on meaningful immigration reforms during the 113th Congress. As they do with so many issues, House Republicans like Rep. Steve King of Iowa and Louie Gohmert of Texas, will likely be the loudest voices in the dissenting minority. Accordingly, King, Gohmert, and their allies cannot be viewed as the true voice of the American people. The rhetoric they often employ does little more than parrot nativist talking points of the anti-immigrant movement.

With the release of these principles, House Speaker Boehner and Republican leadership have made a significant step. While there is still much work to be done, a foundation has been established. Let’s make sure that the inaction that marred so much of last year is a thing of the past and this work towards making America a more just and welcoming place continues.

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