An Immigration Reformer, CPAC Sponsor, Reflects On Its Suppression Of Immigration
March 09, 2010, 04:00 AM
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March 09, 2010

[Also by Vincent Chiarello: Colin Powell's Unreported Campaign For Racial Quotas At State]

Peter Brimelow writes: Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily has just posted a powerful column, An Epitaph for CPAC, denouncing the Conservative Political Action Conference's Beltway management, specifically event director Lisa De Pasquale, for what looks like shockingly bad treatment of WND and Farah himself, respectively a sponsor and a speaker of CPAC, and for its obvious contempt for the conservative grassroots. This reminds me of my own reflections of CPAC last year and is an encouraging sign that the Beltway Right is losing control of its base. Farah reports he's organizing a counter-conference, entitled "Taking America Back", in September.

If a Martian had been brought to the Conservative Political Action Conference, held at the D.C's Marriott Wardman Park Hotel from February 17-20, what might he conclude?

Clearly, one sign of apparent success would be the hotel's completely filled garage spaces —so filled, in fact, that cars were advised to use the parking facilities of the nearby Washington Zoo (!).

Our Martian might also have noted the seemingly endless flow of people, estimated at 10-11,000, a 20% increase over the previous year.

But what if our Martian had been asked to measure success in terms of honest discussions of patriotic immigration reform?

Only one answer would be truthful: to put it kindly, the issue apparently did not loom large in the minds of the CPAC organizers.

In fact, that is true not only of the 2010 CPAC Conference, the 37th annual gathering of the conservative clan, but of all those I've attended over the past several years. CPAC Conferences are simply not useful settings for an honest airing of the issue of immigration and that situation will not change in the foreseeable future.

The stated purpose of this year's CPAC, spelled out by its organizers in a booklet with the title "Saving Freedom", was to build a setting in which conservative organizations, especially traditionalist and libertarian, find common ground. The planners invited experts to speak about Obama health care, and the confiscatory tax increases that will surely follow; about job creation and growth; about the rule of law and our constitutional foundations; about the right to own firearms; about America's vital role in the world etc. etc.

But the same cannot be said about patriotic immigration reform.

In an attempt to change that, the American Council for Immigration Reform (ANCIR), of which I am a board member, was a co-sponsor of this year's CPAC. We were able to set up a booth, along with scores of other organizations, (including, for the first time, the John Birch Society) in the hotel's Exhibition Hall. We hoped this would serve the patriotic immigration cause by getting out the message that there is a nexus between the proclaimed subject of the conference and porous US borders.

We were not quite alone. Nearby stood a booth with the surprising title of Catholics for a Moral Immigration Policy, which described itself as "...an organization of Christians who believe that an unfettered immigration policy (is) harmful, dangerous and wrong"—a clear indication (I speak as a Catholic) that it had not received the imprimatur of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Of the nearly 90 booths in the Exhibition Hall, only these two specifically dealt with immigration.

My Martian's suspicion that the CPAC organizers were hostile to the subject of immigration reform would have been further deepened by a review of the multiple main and subsidiary sessions and speakers.

During the entire conference, only three subsidiary sessions allowed even the slightest opportunity for the registered guests to hear anything about the baleful effects of immigration.

In the evening of February 18th, Citizens United presented a 90 minute documentary entitled, Border War: The Battle Over Illegal Immigration, introduced by former congressman J.D. Hayworth, who is challenging Senator John "McAmnesty" McCain in the GOP primary in Arizona.

On the morning of Saturday, February 19, i.e when the conference was winding down, two sub-sessions were held very close together. And one, controlled closely by the Wall Street Journal's John Fund, included Linda Chavez who, as usual, warned the GOP about "alienating the country's fastest growing demographic, Hispanics".

This paucity of conference discussions of immigration would have puzzled our interplanetary visitor, but they angered former Congressman Tom Tancredo. In a rebuke of CPAC Board Member Grover Norquist, Tancredo wrote:

"The best example of how CPAC 2010 has failed the conservative movement is CPAC's attempt to redefine (sabotage would be a more accurate term) the potent issues of illegal immigration and border security. Whereas grass-roots conservatives and millions of 912 patriots—along with 80 percent of the American people—understand the need for border security as a precondition for immigration reform, CPAC board member Grover Norquist is busy launching a new project in support of the Obama administration's plan to grant another amnesty to 20 million illegal aliens. Neither border control nor immigration enforcement was included as a topic for any of the CPAC general sessions. "

The only sub-session that dealt specifically with the issue of immigration's impact on American society was ANCIR's. Entitled "Immigration: The Defining Issue for the Republican Party ", it brought together: Robert Rector of The Heritage Foundation; Prof. James Gimpel of the Univ. of Maryland. Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, and Rep. Steve King, (R-IA).

Prof. Gimpel, who has studied the political implications of large-scale immigration, reiterated the results of his research which show that, "as the immigrant population has grown, Republican electoral prospects have dimmed". When translated into specific terms, that meant, "...an urban county that cast 49% of its vote for the Republican candidate in 1980 could be expected to drop to 43% in 2008".

Robert Rector's forceful presentation focused on the costs and fairness of granting amnesty and then citizenship to those who have arrived illegally. Rector emphasized that immigration will ultimately spell the death knell of the GOP: "When you open borders and when you allow people to come here legally in vast numbers, or illegally through amnesty, what you are doing is giving them access to the US ballot box."

Rector repeated his point that immigration was helping to bankrupt the US economy: "If you want to cut costs, stop importing poor people into the country!"

Mark Krikorian painted a similar picture, suggesting that the Obama Administration has not rejected the idea of amnesty despite the serious economic difficulties that face America.

Rep. King pointed out an unexpected aspect of counting illegal aliens in the US Census: in so doing, they give incumbents an advantage in that since illegal aliens cannot vote, so their presence requires fewer votes for the office holder to retain his seat. King cited Maxine Waters's seat in Watts District in Los Angeles, which is becoming majority Hispanic, but contains significant numbers of non-voting illegal aliens.

Further, King announced that he has introduced legislation called the New IDEA Act (HR 3580), that would deny any federal tax advantages to businesses that hire illegal aliens—a proposal that will not get a fair hearing given the make-up of the current Congress.

After the meeting concluded, several attendees remained to speak to the panelists. And, strange as it may seem to VDARE.COM readers, I heard one of them, from Illinois, ask for advice about dealing with the problem of aliens drowning the medical and hospital systems in that state.

What struck me was not this man's creditable intention to face the problem—but his apparent innocence of the national scope of the problem and of its direct connection to legal and illegal immigration.

In fact, that was my impression of many attendees at CPAC: very uninformed (why?) about how immigration, especially its illegal variety, has deeply vitiated the American way of life.

The early 20th century French writer and critic, Paul Valery, once wrote: "Politics is the art of preventing people from taking part in affairs which properly concern them."

I believe it is not only fair, but accurate, to say that this quip applies to the organizers of CPAC Conferences with regard to the baleful impact of immigration on American society.

And I assure you that my Martian guest couldn't agree more.

Vincent Chiarello (email him) is a retired Foreign Service Officer whose tours included U.S. embassies in Latin America and Europe. His last, and most memorable, assignment was to the US Embassy to The Holy See. Currently, he is on the Board of the American National Council for Immigration Reform of northern Virginia (ANCIR). For his VDARE.COM appearances, click here.