As I reported in a recent column (Yeah, Yeah, "Attrition Through Enforcement"—But It's No Substitute For An Immigration Moratorium, March 1, 2010), not one elected official in Washington D.C. has called for a moratorium on legal immigration. Indeed, despite record unemployment, not one has even made an issue of just reducing legal immigration to protect American jobs.
With the current Congress hopeless, patriotic immigration reform's best bet is to get some fresh faces who are willing to stand up for American workers and make cutting legal immigration a priority in their election campaigns.
There has never been a better political climate. Americans are fed up with the Democrats. The Tea Party movement is fed up with the conservative establishment. Immigration is a perfect wedge issue to attract "Hillary Democrats"—union members and other working class Democrats who are seeing their jobs disappear.
Unfortunately, however, no major candidate to date has called for moratorium.
Even well-known immigration patriots running for office, like J.D. Hayworth (AZ Senate) Senate and Lou Barletta (PA-6), avoid the platitudes about legal immigration, but their platforms only have an "illegal immigration" section. (In fairness, I expect Barletta to bring it up later.) John Hostettler, who was a reliably lower immigration vote in the House and is running for the Senate in Indiana, is a little slow in writing his platform but says that immigration is forthcoming.
What about outside of these races? I get lots of e-mails from conservative Republican fundraisers, so I took a look at a few of the races with fresh faces to get a random sampling aspiring conservative Congressmen.
About half do not mention immigration on their websites at all. The rest of the responses are hopelessly predictable.
A few examples:
"We are a nation of immigrants. The debate and problems we have today are not about legal immigration, but illegal immigration. The debate is also a matter of national security. We must secure our borders. We are a nation of laws; therefore, we first need to enforce our existing immigration laws. I will oppose efforts to provide amnesty for illegal aliens." (John Koster, WA-2)
"No other state in the nation has paid a higher price from the federal government's unwillingness to enforce our immigration laws. I believe in the American dream, I believe that we are a beacon of hope for immigrants all across the world. But it must be done legally and we cannot compromise when it comes to fighting illegal immigration." (Pamela Gorman, AZ-3)
The only two of the only major immigration groups to call for a moratorium on legal immigration are Tancredo and Bay Buchanan's Team America PAC and Numbers USA. Fortunately, they are also the only two that are actively involved in elections. (Fair's USIRP Pac is more or less defunct.) Team America can contribute to and endorse candidates and Numbers USA sends out questionnaires on immigration policy and judges politicians voting records, and lets the voter draw their own conclusions.
Still, Team America and Numbers USA have yet to force the issue into the campaigns.
I took a look at the websites of all of the candidates Team America supported. Not one mentioned reducing legal immigration. A few even repeated the platitudes about how great it is.
Numbers USA's candidate survey includes a number of questions on legal immigration including ending chain migration and the visa lottery. While not using the word "moratorium"—unwisely in my opinion—the survey lists two questions that address total numbers:
A number of candidates answered the right way on these questions. But of the dozen websites of those I scanned, not one mentioned reducing legal immigration in their platform. Some even contradict their answers.
For example, Terry Davis Newman, who recently won the primary for Illinois' 12th Congressional District, answered the Survey that she supported lowering legal immigration. But her platform limits her opposition to illegal immigration only:
"This isn't to be confused with legal immigration which I have no problem supporting. It takes great courage to leave the only life you've ever known, to come to a strange place, for try for a better life by way of the American dream." [Terry Davis Newman (IL-12)]
And Dave McIntyre (TX-17,) who also told Numbers USA he supported reducing total immigration and foreign workers, wrote in his immigration platform that
"Securing the border does NOT mean closing it down. The legal flow of people, commerce, and ideas across our borders—north, south, east and west—by air, land and sea is a good thing. We need foreign workers to be able to come into the US, do their job, and go home." [Dave on Immigration, Mcintyre for Congress (pdf)]
As it happens, McIntyre lost the primary and there is now a runoff between Rob Curnock, who answered the right way on all of NumbersUSA's legal immigration questions, and pro-amnesty Bill Flores. But Curnock's website does not mention immigration outside of one bullet point in his National Security platform: "Fighting to enforce existing immigration laws, increasing manpower, and supporting innovative technology-driven methods to keep our nation's borders secure." [Rob Curnock, (TX-17)]
Whatever the case, if candidates are not going to be vocal about patriotic immigration reform when campaigning in the Republican primaries, then they won't say a word in Congress. This is a winning issue with the electorate, but a losing issue with the House leadership and lobbyists.
Nevertheless, I am optimistic that reducing legal immigration can become a campaign issue by November. With the public discourse totally focused on the health care bill, which has now passed, and no one pressing the candidates on the immigration issue, most simply have not given any thought to the issue.
Regardless of whether or not Obama stays true to his latest pledge for amnesty or backs away from fear of the consequences, there is going to be a serious push for amnesty coming soon.
When it begins, every Republican and every Democrat in a Republican district will immediately start condemning the amnesty. As I previously noted, the amnesty bill as written has huge increases in legal immigration. This will give a perfect opportunity to put candidates on the spot and demand they go on the offensive and lower the numbers.
Also, keep in mind that the empty platitudes about legal immigration are still empty. None of us are against legal immigration per se; we just want a lot less of it. This doesn't change the gestalt of the "legal immigration is great" platforms, but it means that when the pressure comes down to support a moratorium, the candidates can follow the tides without contradicting themselves.
But until that tide comes, it looks like VDARE.COM will remain largely alone in forcefully making the case on behalf the moratorium movement.
"Washington Watcher" [email him] is an anonymous source Inside The Beltway.