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This Week on theRight
The Immigration Debate: Whose Side Are YouOn?
By Tom Barry
(Excerpted from an essay published originally in theMay/June issue of NACLA, and available in its entirety at:
Anti-immigrant activists have used the terrorist threat to stirup popular xenophobia, racism, and fear of immigrants. MarkKrikorian, for example, president of the Center for ImmigrationStudies, quotes Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and otherhigh administration officials to bolster his case that the“home front” must be our first defense againstterrorism. According to Wolfowitz, “Since last September,the home front has become a battlefront every bit as real as anywe’ve known before.”
These activists argue that since we can’t defeat theterrorists on the battlefield in conventional warfare, U.S.citizens and their government must find new ways to respond tothis “asymmetric warfare.” Shutting down the bordersand shoving out the “illegals” is the most effectiveand logical first step. “Immigration control is toasymmetric warfare what missile defense is to strategicwarfare,” Krikorian asserts. Homeland defense must embracean immigration-control policy with “layers overseas, at theborders, and inside the country.” The militarism of this newimmigration/anti-terrorism policy is also on display at theDepartment of Homeland Security (DHS), where DHS Under SecretaryAsa Hutchinson described the visa process in September 2003 as a“forward-based defense” against terrorists andcriminals.
Republican Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, one of thecountry’s leading hawks, gives the DHS credit for makingprogress in “securing our borders.” Yet more needs tobe done, according to Brownback, and all citizens can enlist inthe War on Terror. “While the battle may be waged on severalfronts,” says the Senator, “for the man or woman onthe street, immigration is in many ways the front line of ourdefense.”
Based on the immigration-terrorism connection, anti-immigrantgroups have made inroads within the traditionally pro-immigrantneoconservative camp. Most of the leading neoconservatives,especially Jews and Catholics, have a strong sense of theirimmigrant origins. Moreover, the neoconservatives have regardedimmigration flows of both cheap and skilled workers as anunmitigated benefit for U.S. corporations and hence the U.S.economy. However, neoconservatives are fierce opponents ofaffirmative action programs and government-sponsored bilingualeducation and are also proponents of “OfficialEnglish” laws. The 9/11 attacks and the War on Terror havecaused many neocons to back away from their pro-immigrant posture.
The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), a neoconthink tank that focuses almost exclusively on promoting anIsraeli-centered U.S. foreign policy, includes Richard Lamm on itsboard of advisers. In an FDD policy paper, Lamm, the formerColorado governor who is one of the country’s most prominentcultural nationalists, reframed his restrictionist positionswithin the new framework of counterterrorism. Asserting that the9/11 attacks forever changed “the nature of warfare”for the United States, Lamm, who also serves on the board ofadvisers of FAIR, warned, “ America is now the battlefieldand every American is a potential target.” We ignore thisfact, he insists, at our peril. And “if we wish to respondto this new type of warfare,” he says, “we mustconfront the relationship between immigration andterrorism.”
The alarmism over immigration has not only clouded thepolitical landscape but threatens to reorganize it. It had beenthe conventional wisdom within the Democratic Party that bysupporting “liberal” immigration policies, such asfamily reunification and legalization of the undocumentedpopulation, they would expand their political base among Latinos.Recognizing the political potential of the expanding Latinopopulation, President Bush initially broached a variation on thistheme during the early months of his first administration.
Although neither the Republican nor Democratic Party leadershiphave yet discarded this political strategy, both parties have beeninching away from earlier policy commitments regarding theregularization of the ten million illegal residents. Given thetide of anti-immigrant backlash and Arizona Latinos’surprising one-out-of-four support for the Protect Arizona Nowlegislation, Democrats and Republicans alike are beginning toweigh the political costs of supporting immigration policies thatare being described as anti-worker, pro-big business, and weak onhomeland security.
The National Review’s December 31 cover article,“GOP Be Warned,” by neoconservative pundit and authorDavid Frum, makes the case that “no issue, not one,threatens to do more damage to the Republican coalition thanimmigration.” He and others have pointed out that prominentDemocrats, notably Hillary Clinton, are bucking Democratic Partypolitical correctness by expressing concern about immigrantsoverrunning communities in rural New York. According to Frum,“There’s no issue where the beliefs and interests ofthe party rank-and-file diverge more radically from the beliefsand interests of the party’s leaders.”
Tom Barry is policy director of the InternationalRelations Center (online at
∙ American Israeli Political AffairsCommittee
The FBI’s decision in early May to arrest LawrenceFranklin, the Pentagon analyst accused of disclosing classifiedinformation about U.S. forces in Iraq, has put in the spotlightthe work of an influential pro-Israel lobbying outfit, the
Of all the U.S. lobbies, few wield more influence than thepro-Israel interest groups. According to some estimates, there areabout 500 national and local organizations that collectively make upthe pro-Israel lobby. And of those, AIPAC arguably carries the mostweight—“the most effective general interest group overthe entire planet,”
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∙ Center for Immigration Studies
The Center for Immigration Studies was founded in 1985 as aspin-off of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).Another FAIR spin-off is the Immigration Reform Law Institute,which functions as the litigation arm of FAIR, according to theSouthern Poverty Law Center. CIS describes itself as“independent” and “nonpartisan,” but itsstudies, reports, and media releases consistently support itsrestrictionist agenda and works closely on Capitol Hill withRepublican Party immigration restrictionists. CIS has also beencritiqued as being part of a network of anti-immigrant groups thatcater to a white supremacist constituency by right-wing economiclibertarians who believe in the benefits of mass and unfetteredimmigration.
∙ House Immigration ReformCaucus
The Immigration Reform Caucus was established in May 1999 toinitiate new immigration policies. The formation of the caucus,largely by right-wing social conservatives, came at a time whenpro-immigrant sentiment that was widespread in the booming 1990swas starting to wane as optimism about the U.S. economy and itsjob-creating capacity began to fade.
Before 9-11 the caucus brandished the standard restrictionistarguments and statistics to oppose amnesty and guest-workerexpansion proposals while at the same time supporting increasedborder security and interior law enforcement to stem what it terms"the explosive growth in illegal immigration." However,after the administration launched its "war on globalterrorism," caucus members quickly integrated homelandsecurity arguments into their case for more restrictions on bothlegal and illegal immigration, seeking in their words "toestablish and emphasize the link between open borders, unregulatedimmigration and the potential for terrorism."
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∙ John Tanton
John Tanton is widely recognized as the leading figure in theanti-immigration and "official English" movements in theUnited States. As the founder and publisher of
According to Tanton, "In California 2030, the non-HispanicWhites and Asians will own the property, have the good jobs andeducation, speak one language and be mostly Protestant and’other.’ The Blacks and Hispanics will have the poor jobs, willlack education, own little property, speak another language andwill be mainly Catholic."
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Letters From Our Readers
(Editor’s Note: We encourage feedback and comments,which can be sent for publication through our feedback page, at:
Michael Flynn’s article has much useful & interestinginformation about AIPAC’s pernicious role in putting Israel’sinterests before our executive & legislative branches. But asa progressive Jew, I deeply depolore your headline, "Where’sthe ‘American’…"
What does the title have to do with the article? Here you’vetaken a well-researched & informative article & attachedan explicit reference to the dual loyalty canard in the article’stitle. Dual loyalty is thinly veiled anti-Semitism. There is noissue of dual loyalty. It only exists in the minds of people whomistrust Jews.
I detest AIPAC. I wish either it didn’t exist or it behavedentirely differently than it does. But AIPAC’s volunteers &staff are good Americans. Their loyalty should never bequestioned. Their organization, its agenda, its strategies…allof this should be fought against. But not the issue of whetherAIPAC & its supporters are disloyal to America. Those peoplebelieve (wrongly I contend) that by supporting Israel’s intereststhrough AIPAC they are doing a good deed both for Israel & forour country. Let’s tell them how wrong they are. But let’s not doit the way your title does…
– Richard Silverstein
I actually did not read the article. I have just been trying tofind an email address for John Bolton. Thank you for your website.I am outraged at Congress for not taking a vote FOR John Bolton. Ibelieve the UN to be evil, and the U.S. needs someone like Boltonwho will kick butt! I would prefer the U.S. to be out of the UNand the UN to be out of the U.S.–maybe Babylon-in Iraq. The UNthreatens our national security, loves rogue nations, andthreatens our sovereignty.
Did you know that Ecclesiastes 10:2 reads: "The heart ofthe wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to theleft."
– Mary Jo Zimpfer
The article was very informative. While I knew the DLC wasattempting to move the Democratic Party to the right of center,your article clearly shows their agenda is much more destructive.Their policies emulating the extremist right, along with theRepublicans’ skill at stealing elections and the DLCcandidates willingness to feebly protest and concede early, isleaving the United States with a one party system. The feeblenessof Democratic opposition in the Congress is clearly related to theindividuals who claim membership in the DLC. More often than not,these people cast their legislative votes along DLCpolicies–which fall "right" into line. To those folkswho wonder "where are the Democrats," the reading ofyour article is a must; it will answer all their questions.
I was delighted when Howard Dean became Chair of the DNC, butuntil the past two weeks I believe he was bound and gagged in thebasement of the DLC. Unless the Democrats throw off the stranglingpolicies of the DLC we are finished. I have given my last pennyand walked my last mile for this party until I see some positivechange back to the issues which made us the party of the people.Liberals must rid the party of the DLC or a new national politicalparty must be formed. Democrats are selling out the country anddestroying our democracy just as the Republicans are.
– Harriett Heisey
Re: Grover Norquist and Neocons
A few months ago I wrote you asking why Grover Norquist was noton your right web list. Your answer that he was not a neocon sentme on an investigation of just what a neocon is. After muchreading, I’ve come to a much better understand of not only what aneocon is, but also of the unholy tripartate that call themselvesRepublicans today. I’ve come to see that the three legs ofalliance each have their own objectives, but at least pay lipservice to the other two. We have the religious right wanting toregulate personal behavior, the libertarians (such as my oldfriend Grover) wanting to reduce and eventually strangle thefederal government, and the neocons want to extend Americanhegemony around the world. This is an interesting coalition, onethat I feel will eventually fall victim to internal conflict.Thank you for opening my mind. Prior to this, I grouped everyright wing-nut as a neocon.
– John Dadmun
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