“High Fences, Wide Gates”: CPAC Continues Immigration Cop-Out

As others at VDARE.com have written (see here and here), our Peter Brimelow’s presence on a panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) occasioned outrage from the Left. And, predictably, the Mainstream Media is dutifully repeating these charges with headlines like “Immigration speaker sparks controversy at CPAC”  [By Leigh Ann Caldwell, CBS, February 11, 2012] and “At CPAC, Hard Lines On Race And Immigration Could Be Awkward” [by Corey Dade,NPR, February 9, 2012].

But the real controversy on immigration: the fact that, in the official CPAC sessions, the immigration issue was set up as a “debate”—when the plain fact is that this is an issue that conservatives should not be debating at all.

The panel that created Leftist huffing and puffing was merely a satellite breakout session on multiculturalism hosted by ProEnglish, the English-language advocacy group—not by CPAC itself. And it did not even deal with immigration. Nor was Brimelow’s speech on immigration. Although CBS and NPR chose not to mention it in their reports cited above, Brimelow was actually talking about the public choice consequences of institutional bilingualism in Canada—a major theme of his 1986 [!] book on Canadian politics, The Patriot Game : Canada And The Canadian Question Revisited.

The only official panel on immigration in the entire 3 day session: a short debate featuring Robert Vandervoort of Pro English (who spoke on assimilation, not immigration), Kansas Secretary of State and SB 1070 author Kris Kobach, open borders libertarian loony Alex Nowrasteh, [Email him]and pro-guestworker Hispanic Congressman David Rivera. [Contact him] Another Hispanic Congressman, Mario Diaz-Balart was supposed to speak, but cancelled, possibly because of the manufactured controversy against Vandervoort. The panel was moderated by Niger Innis who has made pro-amnesty statements in the past. In other words, the patriotic immigration side had the deck stacked against it from the beginning.

Note that CPAC never hosts “debates” about whether we should have liberalized abortion laws or raise taxes. In fact, there are always multiple panels and speakers on these and other milquetoast conservative issues that take the exact same position (ban abortion, lower taxes.)  

But in fact opinion polls show that grassroots conservatives are much more unified on the issue of patriotic immigration reform than abortion or taxes. Take two of the most “controversial” issues involving immigration: Arizona’s SB 1070 and birthright citizenship.

According to recent Rasmussen polls, only 11% of conservative voters oppose requiring local police to check the status of suspected illegal aliens and only 13% believe that the children of illegal aliens should receive automatic US Citizenship. In contrast, 35% of self-identified conservatives believe that the wealthy do not pay their fair share of taxes and 24% consider themselves pro-choice. [VDARE.com Note: you must have a Rasmussen Subscription to see the demographic breakdowns of the polls.]

The overwhelming support for patriotic immigration reform among grassroots conservatives was evident when CPAC’s debate began. It was scheduled for the early morning, but still it was delayed and cut short to allow Irish journalist Ann McElhinney to make an unscheduled speech about the importance of fracking (?) Only then were the panelists allowed to take the stage.

Moderator Niger Innis [Email him] emphasized that this was a “sensitive discussion” and how important it is that we do not “demonize a particular point of view because we disagree with it.” He said that people who support national sovereignty and cultural cohesion  are not all racist—while those who support “compassionate” policy are not unpatriotic.

While I try to avoid attacking the motives of my ideological opponents, I cannot imagine a CPAC moderator say something like “let’s remember that those who support a generous welfare state and high taxes are not socialists.”

Nowrasteh spoke first, and somehow managed to speak much longer than the other speakers. His speech was the least remarkable, discussing immigration in conventional economic terms. His argument could be summed up as: conservatives oppose economic regulations, not allowing Open Borders is a regulation, conservatives should support Open Borders. He even tried to compare laws against hiring illegal aliens to the individual mandate under Obamacare, asking what right the government had to get in between a willing worker and employer. Then, without dealing with the fact that the federal courts have mandated that states provide benefits to illegal aliens and that immigrants overwhelmingly vote for more government, he suggested any fiscal problems with immigration could be created by “building a wall around the welfare state”—whatever that means.

Kris Kobach spoke next. Significantly, when Innis noted that Kobach wrote SB 1070, the audience gave him thunderous applause.

Kobach briefly dispensed with all of Nowrasteh’s arguments. He opened by answering Nowrasteh’s rhetorical question about willing employers and workers by pointing out that there are 13 million Americans looking for jobs. In his truncated remarks, he briefly explained the concept of “attrition through enforcement” or “self-deportation” and explained how it is succeeding in Arizona and Alabama.

Kobach noted that, since Alabama’s immigration law went into effect, the state’s unemployment rate went down faster than any other state in the Union. He closed with the line that the best way to create a job for an American is to deport an illegal alien.

Where Nowrasteh was interrupted with boos, Kobach was repeatedly interrupted with thunderous applause.

ProEnglish Executive Director Bob Vandervoort spoke next. Vandervoort noted that Pro-English does not address immigration directly, but that it opposes multiculturalism, which is tangentially related. Vandervoort argued that a unified culture is more important than letting a businessman hire cheap labor, and gave the case for Official English. Like Kobach’s, his speech was very well received.

Next Rep. Rivera spoke. He claimed that he supported immigration enforcement—but that we need to accept the need for guest workers.

It goes without saying that Rivera did not address the birthright citizenship problem—under current interpretation, the US-born children of temporary workers are citizens, meaning they become permanent wards of the U.S. taxpayer and their parents, as a practical matter, will not be deported.

Rivera claimed that he tried to pass an E-Verify measure while serving in the Florida State House, but that it was blocked by the Chamber of Commerce and other business interests. However, he did not mention that he, along with conservative darling Marco Rubio, helped block it:

 Florida lawmakers looking to pass bills targeted at curbing illegal immigration faced one major hurdle this session—convincing South Florida legislators, who hold key leadership positions in the House and Senate, to support their cause. Without the backing of House Speaker Marco Rubio, the first Cuban-American to hold the position, the bills failed to get any major play in their committees. Six weeks into the session, a three-hour workshop was held on the six House bills, but even that failed to produce its desired intent of combining the bills into one larger committee bill. “`Speaker Rubio outlined the priorities of the session and this didn`t fall under that list,” said [Rep. David] Rivera, one of Rubio`s lieutenants.

[Miami-Dade lawmakers stymie immigration bills, by Laura Figueroa, Miami Herald, April 17, 2008]

Rivera then noted that Lamar Smith has a bill that would mandate E-Verify, but it is being held up due to opposition by the Chamber, agribusiness and other business interests. But he failed to mention that  ImmigrationWorks, the American Hotel and Lodging Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Restaurant Association, Associated General Contractors of America and over a dozen other cheap labor groups all endorsed Smith`s bill—after he agreed to include preemption provisions against state action in it.

Either Rivera is very ignorant about this bill, or else he has unintentionally revealed what many of us have suspected: the cheap labor lobby is betraying Rep. Smith. Although they got the E-Verify bill watered down with pre-emption, they are still surreptitiously blocking it.

Assuming this is true, Republican voters should ask: why does the Chamber has a veto power with the Republican leadership in the House?

If anything, we should thank Rep. Rivera for giving grassroots conservatives a picture of how the Congressional GOP is beholden to business interests.

Moderator Innis then gave his own speech. He claimed that the balkanization of America is taking place because of Harvard, not Mexico City.

But this is simply not true. While American elites deserve their share of blame for promoting multiculturalism, the Mexican government has whole government agencies designed to prevent Hispanics from assimilating.

Innis closed by noting that there is a demographic catastrophe awaiting the GOP. He noted how his home state of Nevada has become increasingly Hispanicized—insisting this was done “in the bedroom”, not on the border.

Once again, this is simply not true. While low birthrates exacerbate America’s racial demographic transformation, they are not the cause of it. If Mexicans were reproducing in Mexico, not America, it wouldn’t have the slightest effect on our country. The Japanese, who have much lower birthrates and a much saner immigration policy, may be facing an aging population; but their national composition is unchanged.

When Innis finished, he announced that the panel was out of time and there could be no Q&As. This prevented any questions about, say, legal immigration, which Vandervoort and Kobach did not get a chance to address in their short speeches.

The title of CPAC panel: “High Fences, Wide Gates.” Presumably this was meant to appease grass roots Americans’ rage at the absence of strong border security—while reassuring business donors that cheap labor can continue to come here legally in large numbers.

But, of course, there is no point in building a fence if you’re just going to leave the gate open all the time.

“Washington Watcher” [email him] is an anonymous source Inside The Beltway.