Congressman Tom Tancredo and Congressman Ron Paul are emerging as the leading candidates supporting immigration restriction. What I think is interesting here is that while Tom Tancredo`s lifetime record on immigration restriction is stronger, Ron Paul`s recent record on H-1b restriction is actually stronger.
H-1b expansion is different than many other forms of immigration policy in that its effects have been felt by a specific, well educated group. That is important in the Iowa race because the process in Iowa is heavily weighted towards ability to mobilize activists-and being displaced by H-1b expansion is something that can transform people into activists. The next major GOP Iowa event is the Ames Straw poll. No candidate in the last 30 years has won the Iowa caucuses without winning the Ames Straw poll(which is a poll taken at a large, GOP fund raising event). Candidates can buy large blocks of tickets and bus folks to the straw poll, but ultimately the straw poll and the caucuses are measures of each candidates ability to mobilize committed voters in Iowa.
I happen to disagree with Paul on several issues. I`m concerned his economic policies would result in a high degree of concentration of wealth. However, because of his consistent stand against the Iraq war, his lifetime of Libertarian activism-and his ability to reach out to folks directly impacted by H-1b expansion, I suspect Paul will make a much stronger show in Iowa than is widely anticipated.
Tancredo has made immigration restriction a more central issue in his campaign-and has drawn a lot of negative attention from Latino advocates as a result of how he has approached this issue. Paul has put himself in a better position to appear a true moderate on immigration(and paint the other GOP candidates as open borders radicals) and to appeal to the people most likely to become effective activists as a result of being directly impacted by immigration expansion policy.