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Immigration-Sanity With Democratic Help: Not An Impossible Dream
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September 18, 2009, 10:33 PM
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VDARE`s Brenda Walker recently described (The Van Jones Fiasco—How Low Can Lefty Greens Go?) how the venerable Sierra Club has become a fixture of the Left, including developing a political-correctness-driven relationship to sane immigration policy that resembles Superman`s relationship to kryptonite.

The estrangement between environmentalists and the Right (despite the fact that "conservation" and "conservative" are words with a common origin) also has received impetus from the Right, as explained by conservative writer John Leo in a memorable 2001 column, Republicans belittle environmental concerns at their peril:

Derisive references to environmentalism as a quasi-religion of the softheaded tend to play well among social and religious conservatives who generally don`t respond to arguments from big business. These references remind all conservatives that the most extreme environmentalism does look a bit like an ersatz earth religion, with humans as the poisonous intruders who shouldn`t be here. But why do social and religious conservatives so often fall in line with business executives who dismiss environmentalists as wackos?

One reason is that environmentalism rose out of the same 1960s agitation that social conservatives believe was so ruinous to the general culture. Some environmentalists give the impression that the movement is simply part of the left, thus managing to alienate potential supporters on the right. This is a major strategic mistake, but an understandable one, given the hostility to the environment that Republicans have produced over the past 20 years.

Indeed, nowadays we associate Republicans with implacable opposition to matters environmental, such as the establishment of new, official Wilderness Areas. But, for an historical counterexample, Congressman John Saylor (R-PA) was a principal player in the passage of 1964`s Wilderness Act. (And such eminences critical for public-lands conservation as Gifford Pinchot and Theodore Roosevelt were Republicans.)

Anyway, environmentalists, like blacks, have essentially attached themselves to the Democrats, with the result that the Democrats take them for granted and the Republicans don`t even compete for their support. It`s not a winning strategy for accomplishing one`s goals (assuming one remembers what the goals are, which, as Walker suggests, the Sierra Club does not).

Patriotic immigration reformers are at hazard of making the same mistake by allying solely with Republicans and dissociating themselves from the Democrats. There`s history here, too. Congressman Anthony Beilenson, who represented the San Fernando Valley of suburban Los Angeles from 1977 to 1997, is a Democrat who spoke out forcefully on the many foreseeable hazards of mass immigration (legal and illegal both) while he was in Congress.

For example, in a May 30, 1996 Las Vegas Sun op-ed, Immigration versus our grandchildren, Beilenson wrote, in part:

Supporters of the status quo on legal immigration say we need and want those who immigrate legally, and that our only real immigration problem is the large number of people who are settling here illegally. But the fact is, both types of immigration determine how many newcomers our communities have to absorb, how fierce the competition for jobs is, and how much our quality of life is affected. Three-quarters of foreigners who settle here do so legally, so their impact is actually far greater than that of illegal immigrants.

[snip]

And the threat to our environment is not the only one we face from a rapidly growing population. When our communities - particularly those in large coastal urban areas that are magnets for immigrants - are already straining to meet the needs of the people who are here right now, there can be no doubt that our ability in the future to provide a sufficient number of jobs, adequate housing and enough food, water, education, health care, and public safety is certain to be tested in ways we cannot even imagine.

However we look at it, failing to reduce our rate of immigration clearly means that our children and grandchildren cannot possibly have the quality of life that we ourselves have been fortunate enough to enjoy. With twice as many people, we can expect to have at least twice as much crime, twice as much congestion, and twice as much poverty.

Beilenson also wrote straightforwardly about our absurd policy of birthright citizenship for "anchor babies" (using that terminology) in an article, Anchor Babies: Case for Correction By Constitutional Amendment, published in The Social Contract. One paragraph from this article shows that, among Los Angelenos, there was widespread awareness of this festering sore on the body politic at least as far back as 1995:
Last year I surveyed my Los Angeles area constituents on a number of topics, and one of the questions I asked was: �Do you support eliminating the automatic granting of citizenship to U.S. born children of illegal immigrants?� The response was overwhelmingly favorable: 83 percent of the respondents supported this proposal, while only 17 percent were opposed. This was not a particularly conservative group since 79 percent of those same respondents supported the ban on assault weapons; 78 percent opposed additional restrictions on abortion; and 64 percent opposed allowing organized prayer in public schools.
Are there any prominent, mainstream Democrats today who are obvious heirs, regarding immigration and the national interest, to Beilenson? Of course, there are Congressman Heath Shuler (D-NC) and Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR), lead sponsors of the re-introduced SAVE Act. But I don`t know that either holds much sway with their party.

The "classical" Democrat who comes to my mind is Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), who has earned a "B" immigration grade from Americans for Better Immigration and has a reputation (I`ve heard) for taking seriously the interests of his voting constituents — the ordinary Americans, not just the reelection-campaign funders. Perhaps the terrific activists of Oregonians for Immigration Reform [OFIR] can weigh in, with letters to VDARE, on whether DeFazio is the real deal.