[Scroll down for: Ten Things To Do to Oppose the Gang of Eight’s Amnesty Bill]
Last Thursday, Michelle Bachmann (R-Minnesota) appeared on the Glenn Beck show with a troubling message. “We’re losing badly,” Bachmann said about the fight against the Gang of Eight amnesty bill for illegal immigrants. “A lot of your viewers don’t even know we are in the middle of that fight right now,” Bachmann told Beck. “We need your viewers to melt the phone lines and say ‘Don’t vote for any immigration bill until the border is secure.’”
“This is the most important item in the next four years, what’s going to happen in the next couple weeks,” she said, “We have a very short window, six weeks, to kill this bill.”
Congressman Steve King (R–Iowa) called the immigration bill “far worse” than Obamacare:
If somehow there was an offer that you’re going to get one or the other . . . I would take Obamacare before I’d ever accept this amnesty plan.
King said that amnesty now would lead to perpetually open borders: “If you grant amnesty, you can never promise that you can enforce immigration [laws] again.”
“The [immigration] bill is worse than universal healthcare, “ warned Glenn Beck, “Listen to me, it is worse than universal healthcare, and in the coming days as we get closer, we will explain why it’s worse than universal healthcare. It is the death knell of the country. There is no recovery from this one. None. No recovery.”
Rush Limbaugh said the bill would add millions of “instant Democrats” to the electorate.
So where are Beck’s viewers, Tea Party and 912 activists? Why aren’t they “burning up the phones” as Bachmann is calling for, and leading the fight against the movement to grant citizenship to 30 million people who have or will come here as illegal aliens?
Did election losses fray nerves? Are Tea Partiers demoralized by the parade of turncoats (Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Kelly Ayotte) among people they helped elect, especially Rubio? Are the lies peddled in advertisements aired on conservative talk radio and TV by the fake conservative group, Americans for a Conservative Direction, taking a toll?
I think all of these things are true. Also true is that social conservatives and Tea Party activists are sick of being tarred with false accusations of racism, which happens whenever they try to weigh in on virtually any social issue.
As Democrats pile on with their usual, visceral “Racism” charge against those who oppose mass amnesty, I couldn’t blame anyone for wanting to avoid such ugliness. It’s not easy to stare down public officials and smirking editorial page editors shrieking “racist” at you.
But the immigration bills is a transformational event, far more important than any other issue in Washington right now. It is time for the grassroots to pay attention, as Bachmann says.
The “racism” charge simply needs to be ignored. It won’t go away, no matter what we do or say. Every single person in the Tea Party could pack up and go home, unplug their computers, and stop voting tomorrow, and ten years from now, President Holder and the Southern Poverty Law Center would still be holding blue-ribbon conferences at the White House to discuss the Rising Tide of Tea Party Hate.
You’re a racist is the eternal default of people who have no intention of speaking honestly about what will happen if we grant citizenship to enough low-income, low-education, illegal immigrants to increase America’s population by 10%. That’s 30 million people — the equivalent of entire population of Canada, or fully 1/4 of the current population of Mexico (Arnold Ahlert observes that both pro- and anti- amnesty groups agree on the 30 million figure).
But it’s not just liberals and Democrats throwing the “R” word around. You also hear it, or some coded equivalent, from many political operatives on the Right, and this is a terrible development that needs to be looked at carefully. Some in the Republican Party and and some (not all) national libertarian groups are using the same shame tactics as leftists to pressure others on the Right to not weigh in on the immigration debate.
I’ve heard stories on the ground from people who have been told that if they speak out on immigration, the whole movement will be seen as racist. Don’t let anyone pressure you that way.
Last Friday, Rush Limbaugh explained the willingness of many Republicans to support amnesty this way: “The Republican Party is embarrassed by its own base,” Limbaugh said.
I assume that some Republicans think there is a new group of people that would become their base. If they just got rid of these pro-lifers, if they just got rid of this religious crowd, if they just got rid of the Christians, if they just got rid of these gun nuts.
Turncoat Marco Rubio is certainly playing from this game book. Thankfully, Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are now beginning to mobilize people against this legislation.
For the past two years, I have travelled around Florida speaking to citizen patriot groups. I’ve come to believe that pressure from people on our own side is the main reason that Beck listeners and Tea Party and 912 groups (and many registered Republican) have been hesitant to enter the fight against an amnesty bill that they personally oppose and recognize as an existential threat to America.
Making this problem worse is a troubling dynamic in Tea Party/912 organizing. While the majority of people I’ve met in this movement identify themselves as social conservatives first, the minority of libertarians involved — who are often pro-open borders, pro-gay marriage, pro-pot legalization, and even pro-abortion rights — have an outsized influence over the far larger numbers of traditional values conservatives.
This outsized influence is magnified by the presence of national libertarian groups that siphon power off the grassroots while claiming to speak for them.
I don’t say any of this as a blanket condemnation of all people who identify themselves as libertarians. Some of the people I admire the most in politics are diehard, capital “L” Libertarians (myself, I was writing fan letters to Ayn Rand and stumbling through Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology way back in high school). And some national libertarian groups like Campaign for Liberty are airing the view of members who oppose the Gang of Eight’s amnesty bill. They may even be doing more to fight this legislation (I would appreciate confirmation of this).
But I’ve also witnessed aggressive attempts within the movement to dominate and silence people who want to talk about subjects like illegal immigration and abortion. And when libertarians define everything that they don’t want to talk about as a “social issue” and then demand silence on social issues, they’re just being liberals who don’t want to pay taxes.
A big source of this problem is the outsized influence of national organizations like FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity. Although they provide training resources and leadership in campaigns, they also pressure the grassroots to abide by their agendas, and on amnesty they both curiously claim to be “sitting the fight out,” which is no different from supporting the bill.
In fact, deep-pocketed players all over the Right are currently pressuring Tea Partiers to sit down and shut up about immigration. Grover Norquist has been flogging ugly racial charges against the Tea Party, as Ann Corcoran details in this excellent blog. Jeb Bush is flouting bizarre anti-facts about needing illegal immigrants to teach Americans about family values at his (very vaguely named) American Action Forum. Daniel Greenfield has a wonderful takedown of Bush’s immigrant fertility derangement.
FreedomWorks once at least talked about a no-amnesty plan, but now they are vigilantly avoiding the entire subject of illegal immigration. The grassroots needs to realize that, by whispering to Beltway insiders about how they’re “sitting out” the immigration bill, FreedomWorks is for all practical purposes actually supporting amnesty. And if they claim you as a member, they’re essentially saying that you do, too.
Americans for Prosperity in Florida [disclosure: I did freelance and volunteer work for them] is arguably more coercive with the grassroots. They have a habit of culling names from grassroots organizations and claiming these people as their membership. If you ever attended an AFP event or volunteered on their phone lines or went to hear one of their speakers, AFP lobbyists in Tallahassee and Washington D.C. are probably claiming that you are a member of AFP and that they are speaking for you.
And what they’re saying is that you’re “sitting out” the immigration bill along with them, which really means supporting amnesty.
Don’t let AFP, or anyone else, do this in your name. Tea Party and 912 activists need to take a hard look at the people and groups claiming to be speaking for them. Don’t give away your power to anyone. And if you are a member, let them know how you feel.
I believe the majority of people involved in citizen patriot movements oppose the Gang of Eight’s amnesty bill. But if we don’t make ourselves heard now, we might as well give up the fight.
When amnesty supporter and presidential hopeful Jeb Bush claimed at the recent Faith and Freedom conference that “immigrants are more fertile . . . and they have more intact families,” CNN reported that his “arguments . . . were met with near silence from the conservative crowd.” In contrast, the crowd loudly applauded Michelle Bachmann’s fiery denunciation of “amnesty.”
But it’s time to do more than applaud. Following is a toolkit for lobbying against the Gang of Eight’s bill, countering the lies being told, and educating your friends and fellow Tea Party/912 members about the facts on amnesty and illegal immigration.
Ten Things To Do to Oppose the Gang of Eight’s Amnesty Bill
#1: Educate Yourself About the Facts
Before we talk about amnesty for illegal immigrants, we need to understand who is here and the many ways they’re already accessing government benefits. When I worked in social services, I came to know a lot of low-income immigrants, legal and illegal, and those who weren’t living with someone with legal status and taking advantage of their public benefits still had multiple ways to access funding on their own. Anybody, for example, who tells you that the Gang of Eight’s bill will deny subsidized healthcare to illegal immigrants during a waiting period is lying. They already receive publicly funded healthcare through multiple sources: emergency services, Medicaid, FQCHSs (look it up), Disproportionate Share Hospitals, state programs that enroll illegal immigrants, federal and state programs that support pregnancy and deliveries, and special grants funneled through universities and research hospitals.
None of this is going away. Instead, expect doors to medical programs to open very quickly for 30 million mostly low-income beneficiaries of amnesty. When people in residence here start on the path to citizenship, who will argue against including them fully in Obamacare long before the 10 or 13 year delay has ended?
And there are other forms of welfare that promise to explode as well.
- Read this report by Steven A. Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies, beginning to end: Welfare Use by Immigrant Households with Children, A Look at Cash, Medicaid, Housing, and Food Programs. It’s a great primer on use of public assistance, broken down by native-born/immigrant status and legal/illegal immigrant status.
- Center for Immigration Studies has the most up-to-date analyses on the Gang of Eight’s legislation and amendments.
- This Heritage Foundation’s Report is absolutely essential as well: The Fiscal Cost of Unlawful Immigrants and Amnesty to the U.S. Taxpayer
- Heritage has more excellent information on immigration.
- Numbers USA has many fact-sheets and toolkits for action.
- The Eagle Forum has a good summary of the costs of amnesty, here.
- Background on the immigrant rights movement’s ties to communism from Trevor Loudon.
#2: Educate Yourself About the Lies
- Frontpage Magazine has some of the best exposés on the Gang of Eight’s media disinformation campaign, from David Greenfield on Jeb Bush’s fertility comments, Lindsey Graham’s ugly pandering, and Rubio’s cozying up to Obama, to information on border control. Frontpage also published a timely exposé on the organization behind those dishonest Americans for a Conservative Direction ads airing on talk radio and television.
- John T. Bennett has published many excellent articles about immigration. Visit his archives at American Thinker, one of the few conservative publications consistently opposing amnesty.
- Victor Davis Hanson’s columns about the impact of illegal immigration in the Southern California town where his family farms are indispensable.
- Judicial Watch is a reliable source for information about the way immigration law is and will be enforced, or not.
- Jeffrey Lord has an important new article about Ryan, Rubio, and immigrant child credit tax scams at American Spectator.
- Mark Krikorian provides background and insights at National Review.
- Former INS Senior Special Agent Michael Cutler offers important information about border security at Accuracy in Media.
- And this guy, who goes only by DrewM., offers a very funny imaginary debate with Paul Ryan, who has disappointed many people with his dishonest defense of amnesty.
#3: Understand the Earned Income Tax Credit
Around January 1, tax preparation offices pop up all over the small Florida tomato town that is my sometimes-home. No, they’re not for thrifty taxpayers seeking to get an early start on April 15: they’re storefronts for processing Earned Income Tax Credit checks. For a fee, these storefronts fill out the paperwork for “refund checks” of up to $5,666 that go to pretty much anyone with children who can claim a limited income. The word “refund” does not mean refund for taxes paid: the EITC is a “cash assistance” welfare program built into the IRS to dispense money to people who pay no federal taxes. It’s like Christmas — after Christmas: in poor neighborhoods, car dealerships and electronics and furniture stores hold “tax” sales where non-taxpayers use taxpayer’s money to buy themselves consumer products. It isn’t uncommon to see store windows with giant “EITC” signs, or slogans like “Mo Money, Mo Money” around EITC season. Police even pick up patrolling in some places to prevent EITC-cash related robberies and burglaries.
It is also, of course, a program subject to massive fraud – $11 – $13 billion a year in recent years. So even though illegal immigrants aren’t supposed to qualify for EITC largesse, many apply for and get the money anyway by lying about social security numbers, other identity fraud, or lying about children who don’t exist or don’t live here. There are even loopholes built into the system to allow some illegal immigrants to legally receive EITC — $4.2 billion was distributed to illegal immigrants in 2010.
Of course, EITC give-aways will skyrocket as soon as 30 million of Jeb Bush’s “extremely fertile” illegal immigrants and their families gain legal status . . . and nobody is even sure whether illegal immigrants will qualify for back-payments of EITC for previous years. Such details, you see, aren’t something the taxpayers need to worry their little heads over.
I doubt the Gang of Eight would tell us the truth about it anyway, even if they knew what the truth was.
#4: Get Your Hands on This One Amazing Book
Actually, whether you support or oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants, you should read Darrell Ankarlo, a former talk radio host in Arizona.
In Illegals: The Unacceptable Cost of America’s Failure to Control its Borders, Ankarlo travels between Mexico and America to discover why and how people enter this country illegally. He opens a window, showing us who is coming here, how they get here, and what this all means for both Mexico and America. Ankarlo seems a little crazy, in a good way. He is empathetic towards everyone — a rare achievement.
If the Gang of Eight had started with this book and encouraged other people to read it, the nation would be having a real conversation about illegal immigration right now.
#5: Know Your Enemies
Illegal immigrants aren’t the enemy.
But the racially divisive, leftist activists who are using illegal immigration to challenge America’s sovereignty are enemies. You need to learn about their real intentions — and where the country is heading if the Gang of Eight succeeds.
Radical Hispanic separationist groups such as MEChA and Nation of Aztlan have strongholds in some cities and on college and university campuses, especially in Arizona and California. Here is a primer introducing these groups. Here is the website for the National Brown Berets: their radical mission statement should be read and understood.
La Raza is seemingly more mainstream, but they share much of the mission and attitudes towards America expressed by more radical groups. In contrast to those groups, however, La Raza is entirely mainstreamed in the political Left. It receives significant taxpayer funding to underwrite its race-based activities (nearly 10 million dollars in 2010), and can call upon scores of high-ranking elected officials to do its bidding. A former high-ranking La Raza official serves in the Obama administration. Here is an exposé on La Raza.
La Raza claims to be nonpartisan, but in reality they operate like any other aggressive race lobby, making demands on both parties but inevitably siding with the Democrats. Look at the La Raza site to find a pdf of a disturbing 2012 speech by La Raza president and CEO, Janet Murguîa.
#6: Bring the Discussion to Your Tea and 912 Groups — NOW!
IRS, NSA, Benghazi, the economy, Syria . . . it’s overwhelming. But as Michelle Bachmann, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Steve King, Louis Gomert, and . . . oh yeah, Obama are telling us (see this great John Hawkins piece), the amnesty bill needs to take precedence over all these other issues because it is speeding through Congress and will create irreversible political changes . . . changes that will give rise to even more uncontrollable Washington scandals.
Too many Tea Party groups are looking elsewhere. Of course, holding the IRS accountable is important; Common Core needs attention. But it’s time, now, to talk about illegal immigration.
Next month will be too late. Heritage Action has resources for your state.
#7: Thank Our Allies
Those fraudulent Americans for a Conservative Direction ads airing on talk radio and television shows, including Glenn Beck’s The Blaze and the Rush Limbaugh Show, have been confusing audiences, but the ads do not reflect the shows’ hosts’ views. In fact, Rush and Beck have been calling for immediate action against the Gang of Eight’s amnesty plan. Be sure to thank them.
The Heritage Foundation, Judicial Watch, Numbers USA, Center for Immigration Studies, the Eagle Forum and others are standing strong against amnesty. Thank them too.
#8: Encourage Our Friends, Cautiously
I don’t always see eye to eye with the national libertarian organizations partnering with Tea Parties, especially when they issue top-down directives to grassroots groups. I believe that the Tea Party/912 movements need to get back to their local roots and work with nationals only when the relationship is really a two-way street.
Part of this involves donating more of your money locally, instead of sending it to wealthy national organizations. Also, ALWAYS check a group’s tax forms before donating anything to them, and ask for detailed information about staff salaries and how your money will be spent. Go to Guidestar to view the 990s of all nonprofit organizations. The site is very easy to use: just register, and you can view any organization’s 990 for free. I’m happy to answer individual questions about researching 990s.
Local membership groups also need to make sure nobody is claiming to speaking for them on contentious issues such as immigration, or saying one thing to Tea Party groups and another to the RNC bigwigs in Washington. It’s great to partner with national organizations when you agree, but don’t give away your power or voice to them. When you work together, maintain your identity and name, and get proper credit for your contribution to any activity.
NEVER hand over your membership list to anyone, and share your membership list only when you are working in an equitable coalition where all parties agree to keep primary ownership of their lists.
One more word on money: when you work with any individual or group, demand that they be transparent about money and other resources they are receiving from any source. You might be very surprised to learn how much money the Tea Party leader sitting next to you at a conference is getting for their participation, especially if they are pushing a view that you don’t agree with.
Doing these things can help create healthier and stronger alliances between national groups and your local organization. And in that spirit, I encourage activists who have worked with FreedomWorks, AFP, and other national entities to reach out to them and let them know how you feel about the Gang of Eight’s Amnesty legislation, and ask them to discuss their position with you. If you have volunteered for their organization in the past, they owe you that.
We may find more common ground on this legislation if we agree to look for it together.
#9: Don’t Let Anyone Call You A Racist . . . And Don’t Let Them Lie to You
I don’t mean the Democrats: they just don’t care what we think. But Republican and conservative organizations that are smearing amnesty opponents with slurs and crude misrepresentations of our positions deserve to hear from us. Here’s a short list of the people who merit a critical phone call, e-mail, or tweet:
- Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform
- Jeb Bush, American Action Forum
- Marco Rubio, Offices in Florida and Washington
- Jeff Flake, Offices in Arizona and Washington
- John McCain, Offices in Arizona and Washington
- Lindsey Graham, Offices in South Carolina and Washington
- GOP – 202-863-8500
#10: Call Your Legislators . . . today
and tomorrow and the day after that. As Michelle Bachmann says, it’s time to burn up the phones.