MALDEF

Few Attend Nativist Press Event

Kudos to a TII subscriber for sending us photos of the event.

On January 29, 2009, conservative foundation The American Cause hosted an ill-attended event titled “Immigration and the Future of the Republican Party,” which attempted to shed light on the role of immigration in the recent elections. The point of the event as reiterated by Bay Buchannan, president of the American Cause, was:
[T]o defunct the argument that immigration is why the Republicans lost [and to] discuss the issue of immigration and how the Republican should (or should not) embrace this matter.
The event became a venue for the panelists to vent about the disappointing outcomes from the 2008 elections. While Buchanan argued that Senator McCain’s presidential candidacy failed because he was “pro-amnesty,” VDARE’s Peter Brimelow said immigration policy and “demographic shifts” were to blame. Jim Pinkerton of the American Conservative chose to focus on changing our current immigration policy, asserting three points.
Number one, border security is homeland security, number two building a fence is economic stimulus and number three building a fence will help us regain our political and cultural identity.
Of course, his points centered around one single aspect of immigration reform, which would suggest that Mr. Pinkerton did not fully understand how complex the immigration issue is. Furthermore, his focus on preserving American “cultural identity” sounds grossly similar to paleoconservative criticism of non-white immigration. The argument suggests that non-white immigrants resist assimilating into American culture, which has been debunked by several recent studies.1

An event that was supposed to spark hopefulness and optimism in relation to the “future” of the GOP only generated pathetic numbers in attendance and repetition of the same ideologies. The New York Times agreed:
Americans want immigration solved, and they realize that mass deportations will not do that. When you add the unprecedented engagement of growing numbers of Latino voters in 2008, it becomes clear that the nativist path is the path to permanent political irrelevance.2
While the top priorities for Latinos continue to be education and the economy, 88% of Latinos recently said immigration was a “very” or “extremely” important priority to them.3 And, elected officials should take heed. Poll after poll shows that a majority of Americans, including Latinos, support a comprehensive approach to immigration reform.4 A recent study by America’s Voice found that pro-reform candidates beat anti-immigrant hard-liners in 19 out of 21 battleground House and Senate races this past election.5

All in all, the advice given at the American Cause event was simply “more of the same.” Not once did the panelists point out that the new Republican strategies should entail reaching out to Latinos or adjusting their ideologies to more accurately portray the current situation. The panelists should understand that this is no longer the time where closed-minded ideas and one-size-fits-all solutions can be tolerated.
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1. Francisco Vara-Orta and Teresa Watanabe, "Census study finds a greater blend," Los Angeles Times, 23 Sep 2008; Jacob L. Vigdor, "Measuring Immigrant Assimilation in the United States," Manhattan Institute, May 2008
2.“The Nativists are Restless,” The New York Times, 1 Feb 2009
3. Mark Hugo Lopez, "Hispanics and the New Administration," Pew Hispanic Center, 15 Jan 2009
4. "While Debate Rages, Public Continues to Support Realistic Immigration Solutions." National Immigration Forum, December 10, 2007
5. “Latinos Flex Political Muscle: Mobilized by Immigration Issue, Latinos Break Turnout Records, Tip Elections and Trend Democratic in 2008,” America’s Voice, November 05, 2008

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