Immigration At CPAC: Grass Roots Restive, But Not Yet Revolting

[See also:

CPAC Symptoms
, by David
Walsh, February 19, 2003

Conservative Political Action Conference,
by the

American Conservative Union
and held annually in
Washington D.C., has long been the biggest meeting
ground for

Movement Conservatives.
Recently, it has degenerated
into a giant celebration

George Bush
and the

Republican Party
. But at least this year (February
17-19), it allowed a serious debate on immigration
policy—unmistakably a hot topic among conservatives and
certainly the highlight of the conference.  

Long-time conservative activist

Phyllis Schlafly
spoke first. She made points that
are familiar to VDARE.COM readers. She explained why

President Bush`s amnesty plan is,

. She noted that immigrants do not do the
jobs that Americans won`t—they just do them for

less money.
She also noted the

Mexican government
`s outrageous

Guide For The Mexican Migrant
that told illegals
how to sneak across the borders. And she explained how
easy it was for

to come across the

Mexican border.

One disappointment: her statement that America should encourage

legal immigrants
searching for the American dream,
but not an

. Of course, legal immigrants should be
lauded for not breaking the law. But most illegal
immigrants come here "to search for the

American dream

) too. And many legal immigrants become part of
the underclass. In the end, immigration is not an
economic issue.

Tamar Jacoby
promptly gave a speech filled with all
the clichés about immigrants doing the jobs Americans
won`t do
etc. that Mrs. Schlafly had just dealt

Because most of the attendees at the conference were Bush loyalists,
Jacoby probably assumed that, by saying she was there to
support the Bush immigration proposal, she would win the
audience`s approval.

Instead, her
were greeted by loud boos.  

Miss Jacoby compared our immigration laws to having the speed limit at
20 miles an hour on the freeway: it is so
unrealistically strict that one cannot expect it to be
enforced.  But she did not say what realistic
immigration laws would be. The U.S. already allows more
legal immigrants than any country in the world. If
she views traffic the way she views immigration, the
autobahn has too low a speed limit. 

Roy Beck

Numbers USA—
mysteriously chosen by the CPAC
organizers although he has repeatedly said he is not a
conservative—gave a largely economic case for
immigration restriction.

Beck began by stating that our immigration policies should be

based upon
what is best for American citizens. He
then gave a number of reasons why our current policies
are not in our interests.  While many immigration
enthusiasts often say the only problem with immigration
is the welfare state, Beck argued that many Americans
who are on welfare would not be if there was no
immigration. He noted that

illegal immigration
is not a victimless crime and
likened illegal immigrant workers to

"wage thieves"
(a comment that has

a good deal of

libertarian criticism
from the

). [Full text of Beck speech:Immigration
Reform: Recognizing Reality or Surrendering Principles

Beck`s solution:
sanctions against

who hire illegals; slowly but steadily
increase deportations of illegal aliens.

Stephen Moore from the

Club for Growth
gave the usual bromides about how
immigration is essential for our economy, immigrants do
the jobs that Americans won`t, George Bush won the
election because he did

so well among Hispanics
etc. etc.

But Moore also suggested four principles to guide immigration policy:

  1. we should welcome immigrants, but oppose

    for them;
  2. immigrants should

  3. we should support

    legal immigration,
    but not illegal immigration;
  4. we should oppose the National ID card.

Moore`s views on the

National ID card.
But, leaving aside the many

non-economic problems
that stem from mass
immigration, it seems very unlikely that we will get rid
of the

welfare state
anytime soon. Courts have already
ruled that all states must give Emergency Room health
care and

K-12 education
to illegal aliens. Those are the two

fiscal drains
that illegal aliens cause. If we are
faced with the choice (as we are now) between having
immigration with welfare or no immigration, which would
Mr. Moore choose?

A clue: when immigration restrictionists try to stop illegal aliens from
getting welfare—for example

Proposition 187
Protect Arizona Now
—open borders
"conservatives" and
libertarians like Moore`s co-panelist Miss Jacoby are
the first to oppose them.  

It seemed clear to me, from the reaction to the panelists, that the vast
majority of Movement Conservatives support at least
somewhat more immigration restriction.

And they are not pleased with the president`s amnesty proposal.  

That`s the good news. The bad news: Bush`s views on immigration were

made clear
before he was elected in

. Few were willing actually to oppose him
because of them.

The Number One choice for President in 2008 among this year`s CPAC
…who, despite his "tough on crime"

New York City to be a

for illegal aliens.

There is still a definite tendency among many Movement Conservatives to
view immigration as a Rule of Law/ National Security
issue—rather than a



In this context, two further observations about CPAC that are worth

  • The growing "Draft Condoleezza" movement.

    Eighteen percent of the CPAC attendees said Secretary
    Rice was their top choice for the GOP ticket in 2008.
     This was only one percentage point below Rudolph
    Giuliani. A huge number of attendants were wearing
    "Condi in 2008"
    buttons. Since then, I have noted an array of

    blogs and websites
    supporting her candidacy.

I find this absolutely baffling.  Besides the fact that Rice has never
served in elected office, we have no clue what
her political views are. The only time she bothered to
state an independent opinion besides echoing the
President`s Iraq war stance was to
support affirmative action
before the

Grutter and Gratz

Rice may be very conservative. But I don`t think that all the people
sporting the "Condi in 2008"
buttons at CPAC knew anything that I didn`t know. What
they did know is that Condoleezza Rice is black and a
female. And, in their dream world, this will mean that
they will be free from accusations of racism and sexism
from the Left.

This idiotic rainbow Republicanism is a recipe for electoral failure.
Besides the fact the choice most likely will alienate
their white male base, it is unlikely to gain them any
brownie points among blacks or females.

Just ask Pat Buchanan—and whomever it was who persuaded him to pick Ezola
Foster as his running mate in 2000.

  • Newt Gingrich`s speech.
    Many suspect the former GOP Speaker will run for
    president in 2008.

Gingrich made

, but not totally agreeable, statements about
immigration. He said that both borders needed to be
sealed, and all border crossers should be strongly
scanned. At the same time, while not endorsing Bush`s "guest worker"
program, he suggested that access to

green cards
be made easier. [Speech


This pro-legal
immigration/anti-illegal immigration position seems to
be very popular among

Movement Conservatives.
Of course, it means that
they are not the bigots of liberal caricature. But it
can easily allow people like Mr. Gingrich to make a few
small gestures towards restrictionists—like being less
generous about issuing

visas to Muslims
—while doing nothing to stop the
rapid transformation of this country via Third World

Overall, the
news from CPAC was good for

immigration reformers.

But there`s
still work to do.

Marcus Epstein

] is a student at
the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA.  He
also writes frequently for

The American Conservative

.  A
selection of his articles can be seen