By Molly Ball for The Atlantic | Originally posted on August 21, 2013
Activists opposed to immigration reform were all set to spend this month putting pressure on lawmakers to kill the legislation. But it hasn’t exactly been a show of force.
Last week, the Tea Party Patriots and NumbersUSA, two groups opposed to “amnesty” legislation, heavily publicized a rally in Richmond, Virginia, featuring Steve King, the firebrand Republican congressman who recently claimed most undocumented youth are physically fit drug mules. But only a few dozen people showed up — far short of the hundreds organizers had planned for.
Journalists posted photos of a lonely-looking King under a gazebo in a mostly empty public park. A reporter for Breitbart News, Matthew Boyle, tweeted, “If grassroots wants to kill #Amnesty they have to show up. #teaparty they are not here in Richmond.”
Activists on both sides of the immigration debate had put heavy emphasis on the importance of flexing grassroots muscle during this month of congressional recess. The idea is to show Republicans in the House of Representatives, which hasn’t settled on a path forward on the issue, where the most passionate support lies. And as August winds down, the Richmond event seems indicative of the overall trend. Hundreds of immigrant advocates have appeared at rallies and town halls across the country. But the other side, the opponents, have been mostly absent.
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