Our VoiceImmigration

Marginalized but not forgotten: CPAC makes space for anti-immigrant movement

Imagine 2050 Staff • Mar 10, 2014

Ann Coulter, shown here at the 2011 CPAC, has been a mainstay at the conservative event, including an appearance this year where she had plenty to say on immigration.

Nativists complain
it’s still not enough

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) denounced the Conservative Political Action Conference for what he says is a “pro-amnesty” bias on immigration issues.

“For the second year in a row, CPAC has featured a panel where all but one speaker supports the agenda of liberal Democrats and the liberal national media,” Smith said. “‘Truth-in-advertising’ would require CPAC to drop the word ‘conservative.’”

Smith’s concerns of a lack of anti-immigrant opinion at CPAC came despite the time given to Mickey Kaus and Ann Coulter, who discussed virtually nothing but immigration from the conference’s main stage.

Smith is not alone his opinion. Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) told Newsmax that “immigration skeptics” like himself had been “pushed out” of the conference’s limelight. And Smith’s sentiments are being echoed across conservative media platforms.

Members of the anti-immigrant movement may claim to be ostracized, but their ideas were as present as ever at this year’s conservative conference. Based on their diminishing reputations, it is perhaps unlikely representatives from anti-immigrant organizations will ever have an official presence at the annual CPAC again. However, official participants like Coulter and Kaus will usually be present to parrot nativist talking points whenever opportunity strikes. Furthermore, outside the halls of CPAC, the anti-immigrant movement remains a prominent influence – specifically in the offices of Congress.

For more than 20 years, the anti-immigrant movement has held sway in Congress and kept close ties to representatives and senators who support the movement’s nativist agenda. Over the years, representatives from anti-immigrant organizations including Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), CIS, and NumbersUSA have testified myriad times before congressional committees on numerous issues at the invitation of such members of Congress. These elected officials, like Rep. Smith and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), have consistently been the anti-immigrant movement’s voice in Congress. This relationship is oftentimes plainly visible such as last summer when CIS’ Janice Kephart served as special counsel to Sen. Sessions while he attempted to derail immigration reform legislation in Senate Judiciary Committee.

It seems largely moot for anti-immigrant activists to lament not having large presences at conferences like CPAC when they continue to have the ear of lawmakers in Washington.

That said, the agenda of the anti-immigrant movement was still readily accessible to any CPAC attendee that wanted it. The aforementioned Coulter and Kaus panel as well as remarks by the likes of Tea Party Patriots’ Jenny Beth Martin, and Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) used talking points that could have come right from the websites of FAIR or NumbersUSA. Additionally, the anti-immigrant organization ProEnglish did have an official presence via a booth on CPAC’s exhibition floor. CPAC attendees could also learn more about the anti-immigrant movement’s views by reading one of the many issues of The Social Contract – a white nationalist publication founded by the anti-immigrant movement’s architect John Tanton — that ProEnglish executive director Robert Vandervoort placed on numerous tables and benches throughout the convention center’s halls.

While members of the anti-immigrant movement may deride conferences like CPAC for not inviting them, they still have the resources and willing supporters to ensure that its fringe nativist agenda can be heard. Still, the growing trend of exclusion facing the anti-immigrant movement indicates that many in positions of influence across the political spectrum are rejecting this agenda. Let’s make sure that trend continues.


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