Now That The Amnesty/Immigration Surge Bill Is Dead, What`s Next?

I once debated the Cato
Institute`s

Dan Griswold
on immigration. He ended his remarks by
comparing

Ronald Reagan
to

Pat Buchanan.
Reagan, he told us, was ever the
optimist with his

"Morning in America"
campaign and accordingly
welcomed immigrants and won in a landslide.

Pat Buchanan
was a pessimist and accordingly hated
immigrants and lost in a landslide.

Griswold`s logic aside, it is generally true that
those of us who are sounding alarms about immigration
don`t always put on a cheerful face.
This doesn`t make us any less right.

Jeremiah
never preached about

"Morning in Jerusalem."

I will admit to being a pessimist
when it came to the prospects of immigration control.
Until last Thursday, I was certain that the Senate would
ignore the American people and pass the Bush/Kennedy

Amnesty/Immigration Surge bill.
Naturally I was

elated
at this

rare demonstration of democracy.


Oswald Spengler
famously wrote that

"optimism is cowardice."
I won`t go that far, but
optimism can lead to complacency. While we should relish
in our victory, we should keep our eyes out for some
troubling developments– or lack thereof—that could make
it

pyrrhic
.

It cannot be ignored that
despite our victory there are still

  • Somewhere between 12 and 20
    million illegal aliens in this country who aren`t
    going anywhere

  • Approximately 2,750 illegals coming across the
    border everyday

  • Over one million legal
    immigrants coming to this country a year

Until something is done to change
this, America will continue to decay. While the vote on
Thursday certainly kept the problem from getting much
worse, it does not

create any positive reform.
Unless the groundswell
of opposition actually turns into a serious political
movement, then it will have been for naught.

Nothing will change if the same
politicians remain in office. They may occasionally get
scared into not doing something disastrous. But even if
a good bill were to get passed, I think it`s a safe bet
that Bush would veto it. Among all the presidential
candidates in both parties, there are only three who
have any serious credentials—Tom
Tancredo,


Duncan Hunter,
and

Ron Paul.
Tancredo and Hunter have yet to show up in
the polls. Paul has managed to garner a great deal of
momentum, but this is legitimately seen more

because of the war in Iraq.
Chances are, the vast
majority of the people who called up their Senators
will still end up voting for

Fred Thompson,


Mitt Romney,
or even

Rudy Giuliani
or

John Edwards.


Trent Lott
and

Lindsey Graham
both managed to not only vote for the
bill, but also

insult their conservative constituents
by describing
them as ignorant, if not racist. While there have been
some stirring about getting a primary opponent for
Graham, that there is not a more serious attempt to get
them all out shows how far the patriotic movement has to
go.

In 2006, the only politician who
could credit his victory to patriotic immigration reform
was

Brian Bilbray.
Although it is certainly not true
that immigration enforcement was a losing issue, J.D.
Hayworth,

Randy Graf,
and

John  Jacobs
were unable to

use immigration restriction to win
.


Jim DeMint,
who along with Jeff Sessions and David
Vitter was the most

reliable opponent
of this bill, is still a

huge backer
of guest workers. Vitter has endorsed
Giuliani. Until we get a few Tom Tancredos into the
Senate, it`s hard to imagine an enforcement only bill
that cuts legal immigration getting passed.

Although the stakes are far
different, the debate on immigration is remarkably
similar to the
debate
on the Confederate flag.

For years, the Chamber of
Commerce in alliance with ethnic lobbyists tried to take
down the flag in the teeth of overwhelming public
opposition. The pro-flag activists successfully elected
David Beasley as governor of South Carolina when he
promised to keep the flag, and

kicked him out
when he broke his promise—something
the immigration reform movement cannot yet claim. But,
after winning battle after battle, the Confederate flag
was eventually taken down, in a "compromise"
after backroom manipulations.

Despite promises to bolt the GOP
and cut off donations, South Carolina is
still
filled with loyal Republicans.
And, sure enough,
when John McCain—who in the past said the flag should
go—came to South Carolina GOP debate and was asked what
should happen, he got a standing ovation when he said he
was glad it came down from atop the statehouse but was
happy to see it in front.

The RNC is betting that
immigration opponents will have similarly short
memories. Everyday I get calls at my office from people
outraged about President Bush – often calling for his
impeachment or even prosecution. I`ve started to ask
them if they voted for Bush in 2004. Most all of them
did. But Bush`s stance on immigration is

nothing new.

The RNC is depending on these
voters to swing back when the fear of

President Hillary
gets instilled into them.

The other danger comes from a
positive development—the fact that virtually the entire
conservative movement has come out against the
Bush/Kennedy bill. Save

John McCain,
the

Wall Street Journal,
and a few neocons and

libertarians
, every single GOP presidential
candidate and virtually all major conservative groups
and pundits opposed it.

Make no mistake, it is GREAT,
WONDERFUL, FABULOUS that the

Heritage Foundation,
National Review, and

Rush Limbaugh
have (at least temporarily) joined the
immigration patriot side. But they did not create the
opposition. Rich Lowry has

described
the vote as a "techno populist victory"
where "bloggers

picked apart the bill,
talk-radio-show hosts
broadcast its flaws, and


ordinary people jammed their senators` phone lines

blocking what had begun as

a kind of legislative coup
." This is more or
less true, but what is not included is that until
recently the "techno
populists
" at

Free Republic
were

banning anyone
who criticized the Bush Amnesty. And

Limbaugh, O`Reilly, and for that matter National Review

supported everything the president did.

The anti-amnesty backlash was
created by groups like the Minutemen, webzines like
VDARE.COM, and people like Lou Dobbs. It was effectively
channeled by organizations like Numbers USA. What has
been remarkably absent from this debate is the
conservative Establishment giving any credit to people
like

Pat Buchanan,


Peter Brimelow,
and

John O`Sullivan
who had been sounding the
alarm—people who

Jonah Goldberg once called "ideologues" of "racial
doom-and-gloom",
and who are now marginalized by the
same conservatives who just discovered immigration
reform.


Ramesh Ponnuru
and

David Frum
have had some genuinely good articles on
immigration lately. But they have yet to say whether
those of us who actually wrote about immigration when
Bush`s approval ratings were above 35% are still

"unpatriotic conservatives"
practicing

"identity politics for white people."

The immigration issue has created
a huge grassroots momentum that everyone recognizes is
something different from the conservative movement. Yet
it still lacks leadership and direction. This is a real
danger. In 1980 the influx of Wallace Democrats and
other assorted

Middle American Radicals
into the GOP elected Reagan
in a landslide. Catastrophically, the defection of a few
neoconservatives from Democratic ranks was instead
credited as the cause of victory. Before long, they
successfully infiltrated and quelled whatever true
populist radicalism existed in Reaganism and the
conservative movement.


Stephen Tonsor
famously

said of the neoconservatives,

"It
is splendid when the town whore gets religion and joins
the church. Now and then she makes a good choir
director, but when she begins to tell the minister what
he ought to say in his Sunday sermons, matters have been
carried too far."

The same can be said of the
Johnny-Come-Latelys of immigration reform. We should
welcome them. But we should also be cautious.

Shortly after 9/11 the ever
prescient late Sam Francis wrote that a number of
neoconservatives had

suddenly begun to realize
that their open borders
position was untenable with the public. They tried to
mollify opposition to mass immigration by

(1)
conced[ing]
the need for some reform… but avoid[ing]
and oppos[ing]
any and all comprehensive immigration control
measures such as a moratorium or drastic and permanent
reductions in numbers of immigrants;

(2)
continu[ing]
to smear those who have actively
supported immigration control as "racists,"
"extremists,"
etc…,

(3)
postur[ing]
as the true or "responsible"
advocates of real and effective immigration reform whose
efforts are in danger of being hijacked and discredited
by the aforementioned "extremists." [Immigration
Reform`s New `Palatable Face`
CHRONICLES,
June, 2002 (PDF,
scroll down)]

This has not completely happened
yet. But it very well could. Especially on talk radio,
much of the opposition to the bill justified itself on
the grounds of national security and the rule of law.
These are two perfectly good reasons to oppose
amnesty–but they still make possible a number of
terrible future developments such as increases in
legal
immigration, an aspect of the Amnesty bill
that was barely discussed.

Alas, this has already
contaminated the grassroots. I was at an anti-illegal
immigration protest in Washington, DC recently.

To my horror,
the protesters were chanting "Legal
yes! Illegal no!"
Others had shirts with the slogan,
"No to racism! No to extremism! No to amnesty!"

So let`s be optimistic about the
great victory in the Senate and growing

grassroots patriotic immigration reform movement.

But let`s vigilant in making sure that our success
continues—and, above all, is not shanghaied and
subverted.


Marcus Epstein
[send
him mail
] is the founder
of the Robert A Taft
Club
and the executive director of the
The American
Cause
and
Team America PAC
. A selection of his articles can be seen
here. The
views he expresses are his own.