Immigration At CPAC: Grass Roots Restive, But Not Yet Revolting
CPAC Symptoms, by David
Walsh, February 19, 2003]
Conservative Political Action Conference, sponsored
American Conservative Union and held annually in
Washington D.C., has long been the biggest meeting
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, well,
amnesty. 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
terrorists to come across the
One disappointment: her statement that America should encourage
legal immigrants searching for the American dream,
but not an
underclass. Of course, legal immigrants should be
lauded for not breaking the law. But most illegal
immigrants come here "to search for the
American dream" (i.e.
jobs) too. And many legal immigrants become part of
the underclass. In the end, immigration is not an
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
comments 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.
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
elicited a good deal of
libertarian criticism from the
blogosphere). [Full text of Beck speech:Immigration
Reform: Recognizing Reality or Surrendering Principles]
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:
- we should welcome immigrants, but oppose
welfare for them;
- immigrants should
- we should support
legal immigration, but not illegal immigration;
- we should oppose the National ID card.
share 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
welfare state anytime soon. Courts have already
ruled that all states must give Emergency Room health
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 and
Protect Arizona Now—open borders
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.
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.
strong, 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
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
news from CPAC was good for
still work to do.
email] is a student at
the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. He
also writes frequently for
The American Conservative
selection of his articles can be seen