[Also by David Walsh: Immigrant Crime: Who Wants To Know? ]
It`s not long since immigration reformers picketed the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the annual gathering organized by the American Conservative Union (ACU), to protest the Establishment`s exclusion of the topic of immigration.
But CPAC 2003, held over the weekend of January 30-February 1, was the first, a quick review of 30 previous years` conference highlights indicates, in which immigration played any role.
It`s a sad irony that 9/11 helped spur changes in this blinkered vision.
CPAC 2003 drew 4,000 from around the country. Pundits and heavy hitters from the administration lined up to offer their take on the current state of conservatism and how to combat liberals. The press kit boasted:
"CPAC is the only place you can see, hear and meet people like Ann Coulter, James Inhofe, Phyllis Schlafly, Tom DeLay, Ollie North, Elaine Chao and Alan Keyes, up close and personal."
CPAC 2003`s featured keynoter: Vice-President Dick Cheney. Subject: Iraq and how the US would "get" terrorists.
Dozens of topics were broached: "What Can Bush Learn From Putin?" "The Growing threat of Radical Environmentalism," "Islam: Religion of Peace?" and "Research & Politics of Missile Defense."
The first hint of shifting CPAC attitudes was the presence (apparently not unwelcome) of immigration reformers roaming the halls. The folks from Middle American News and Immigration Watch seemed gladdened, if a bit surprised by how many reached for their handouts. So, frankly, was I.
Then there was Saturday`s Immigration Panel.
I`d pictured a modest anteroom with perhaps a few dozen paleos huddling silently. Wrong. Hundreds of conferees—perhaps tired of watching Michael "Let `em all in!" Barone hawk his book—spilled into the giant Marriott Gateway Ballroom, there to hear messages ranging from the turgid and pettifogging to the crystal-clear and resounding.
In the first category: John Fund of the Wall Street Journal. His message at first seemed to fly straight and true, especially when opining that illegal aliens ought to be deported, "starting with criminal aliens." Plus he opposed bilingual education!
Then - waffling. Fund urged caution. California`s economy, it seems, "dries up" without illegals. Further, Fund argued that, before troop-stationing (proposed the previous night by former Virginia governor James Gilmore), border-sealing, or "Berlin walls" were attempted, "less emotional, more practical, more creative" solutions should be tried.
He did not speculate how many more illegal aliens might have arrived by the time these "creative" ideas were exhausted.
Amid groans from listeners, Fund voiced sympathy for the mostly-Mexican lawbreakers, crying, "You cannot throw out eight million people tomorrow morning!" Nor did guest worker programs and "regularization" (= amnesty) trouble Fund…so long as they were "orderly."
Not all of what Fund, Daniel Pipes, Grover Norquist and other dais-mates said was rubbish. We heard disquieting but useful analyses about Moslem birthrates, the ongoing "Balkanization" of America by multiculturalism, the tendency of foreigners not to speak English at home, the need ("perhaps") to reduce immigration to 300,000 per annum…Ideas with which VDARE.COM readers have long been acquainted with, but apparently new at CPAC.
Less usefully, some thought that Canada and not Mexico represented the bigger immigration threat…!
Most folks (judging from the applause) had come to hear Michelle Malkin. In a blaze-red sweater with an attitude to match, the celebrated "Invasion" author, VDARE.COM contributor and scourge of the open border lobby was in full cry.
She nodded perfunctorily at panel mates but distanced herself from them on key points. Half-measures and bromides would get short shrift, and fence sitters were flayed with refreshing abandon.
Of the much-touted "regularization," Malkin hissed, "It won`t work!" Immigration talk must begin and end with the unmistakable recognition that more 9/11s will occur until the US gets control of its frontiers, she warned. In a reference to timorous conservatives (especially white politicians), she remarked that a major problem was the fear that proposing tough solutions only invites bad press and the howls of minority activists. This, though, is not a problem for Malkin:
"The presumption that people who call for clear and consistent enforcement of the law are somehow racist ... against certain ethnic groups that seem to send us a large number of illegal aliens, is absolutely preposterous."
To John Fund`s nostrum that "we bring in the world`s best and brightest ... in an orderly process," she responded, "we already have that process in place. The fact is, we have nine to eleven million illegal aliens who have defied that process!"
On what should decisions about who ought to be permitted entry be based, Malkin asked listeners.
"Enhanced profits? Promoting political correctness? Increasing ethnic votes? Protecting illegal aliens? Or kowtowing to foreign governments? No, no, no, no—NO! The government should put the safety and sovereignty of America first!"
The cavernous room shook to applause.
Parks like Arizona`s Organ Pipe National Monument, Malkin said, "are a smuggler`s paradise and a national security nightmare." Citing government estimates for trespassers in that once-pristine region, she said tartly, "If a thousand illegal aliens a day can cross through a single park, so can a thousand terrorists!" Malkin explained that she`d traveled the Southwest to speak with Border Patrol, INS officials and regular police officers. Sadly, despite the recent window-dressing publicity about beefing up the frontier, morale remains low. "They tell me that the decision ... is a political one" to make the border something hardly worthy of the name.
Nor are Democrats alone to blame:
"Unfortunately, we have to talk about Republicans who have helped collude to keep our borders as loose as they are."
Furrowed brows were observed along with the loud clapping.
To the "regularizers," she had nothing good to say. "The problems with regularization and amnesty-type programs is that they send ... a bad message." The situation was more dire concerning criminals: "300,000 alien fugitives remain on the loose today ... and there is no systematized tracking of criminal alien felons.... And `sanctuary` for illegals remains the policy of almost every metropolis."
That included her home town of Seattle, WA, where, Malkin deadpanned, "they are desperately in need of regime change."
(Having three months before 9/11 published in VDARE.COM what I`d hoped would be an eye-opener on the failures to follow immigrant crime, this news did not exactly make my day.)
Then she challenged, "If conservatives do not rise up in defense of the Constitution—who the Hell will?"
This brought the crowds to their feet.
Would it have been nice had Secretary Cheney put in a word (or three) about immigration in his speech vowing in his keynote speech to "get" the terrorists?
Certainly. And of course, immigration was but one of a great many topics that got a CPAC airing.
But it`s a start.
I hope. Peculiarly for a "conservative" bash, two members of the Latino-racist group, La Raza ("The Race") floated about just outside the meeting room. Aware I was covering immigration, a CPAC media person twice came to importune me, asking if I had time for "just two more, from La Raza" - the pair was "really eager" to voice their group`s views.
Whereupon the smile of the doe-eyed young blonde lady became a rictus, and in an eye-blink she and her silent male consort vanished.
David Walsh (send him email) is a freelance writer/photographer (Click here to view his work) in the Washington D.C. area. Among his recent articles is an exposé of Hispanic drivers` disproportionately poor safety record.