Past protests were not the successes they were proclaimed to be. This weekend is likely to be no different.
With the midterm elections approaching, anti-immigrant activists are once again seeking to make immigration a top concern for voters.
With that goal in mind, on October 24-25 the National Illegal Immigration Protest Coalition (NIIPC) will be holding another two days of supposedly nationwide anti-immigrant protests. NIIPC members include Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC), Overpasses for America, NumbersUSA, and many state-level anti-immigrant groups with ties to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
The protests planned this weekend will look to build upon the perceived successes of a previous series of protests that occurred on July 18-19, which organizers billed as the “National Days Of Protest Against Immigration Reform Amnesty & The Illegal Immigration Surge.” If the previous protests are any indication, the events this weekend are likely to be underwhelming, if many of them occur at all.
On its official website, ALIPAC announced that protests in July would occur in 309 locations. However, based on photographs, media reports, and social media posts upheld by ALIPAC and activists, Imagine 2050 staff have only found evidence of protests occurring in 81 of those locations:
As this map* indicates, many July protests were announced by NIIPC, but for about three-quarters of the event, there is no real evidence that anyone even showed up. On the map, the green indicators represent protests that were announced and took place; the pink indicators with question marks represent events that were announced but that lack evidence of occurring; and the red indicators represent events announced for this weekend.
While anti-immigrant protests may cause concern, it is important to view these protests with a perspective of the larger failings of the organized anti-immigrant movement, which is eager to conflate its size and scale for any audience, journalists particularly.
- While the movement has been able to claim success by asserting it has stopped comprehensive immigration reform, its leaders and communicators almost always avoid the inconvenient fact that the current Congress is “the most polarized and unproductive it’s ever been.”
- The movement also has largely ignored that an overwhelming and embarrassing majority of federal candidates who have signed an anti-immigrant pledge crafted by the Federation for American Immigration Reform – one of the movement’s three most influential organizations – have lost primary races this year.
- Meanwhile, the movement has seen myriad defeats in states and municipalities as part of a growing trend across the country of local law enforcement officials increasingly refusing to honor ICE detention requests and distancing themselves from programs like Secure Communities and 287(g), both of which are enforcement priorities for groups like FAIR.
In addition to the protests that were planned and not carried out, there were dozens of protests in July and in the months following that were sparsely attended. In Chicago, for example, only six protestors turned up. Fewer protestors participated in New York City than did in Wichita, Kansas, with only around 8 and around 10 turning up respectively.
This is to say, available evidence does not suggest that the July protests were, as ALIPAC leader William Gheen wrote in email to supporters, “historic protests [that] generated talk radio show attention, televised reports, and hundreds of local news reports.”
Rather, the anti-immigrant movement organized a series of largely underwhelming nativist rallies that went widely unreported and pale in comparison to the sustained actions and energy of immigration advocates.
Nothing indicates that this weekend’s protests will be any different.
*This map will be regularly updated by Imagine 2050 staff over the coming weeks. If you have evidence of any protests occurring that are not included on this map, please contact us.