Thursday, October 11, 2007

New Report Looks at Growth of Nativism in Congress

A new report from Building Democracy Initiative examines the growing role of nativism in national politics. Chronicling the rise of the House Immigration Reform Caucus, the BDI report, Nativism in the House: A Report on the House Immigration Reform Caucus examines not only the growing influence of nativist and xenophobic philosophies in national politics, but the concerted effort of the far-right to bring their extreme ideological agenda to the forefront .

The "report tells us much regarding the shape that "immigration politics" and public policy is likely to take in the foreseeable future. The Caucus's extreme ideological agenda, long-standing ties to anti-immigrant groups, and cohesion in a fractured House of Representatives makes it a noxious ingredient in the melting pot of America. It has drawn even well-intentioned immigration reform proposals down into an abyss of nativism and xenophobia."

Nativism in the House: A Report on the House Immigration Reform Caucus

In the ebb and flow of nativist politics, the House Immigration Reform Caucus has been one of the most powerful and significant forces on Capitol Hill. With 110 congressmen and women as of this report, its members constitute fully one quarter of the House of Representatives. Members have introduced some of the most punitive legislation proposed during the last two House sessions. Their past chairman, Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), is now running for president and participating in national debates. Their current chairman, Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.), is a former lobbyist for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Some of its members have helped legitimize vigilante organizations such as the Minutemen. While voters tend to view their representatives as individuals or by party affiliation, the members of the House Caucus have acted as a bloc. Collectively, they have stood athwart the legislative process, preventing the emergence of meaningful and humane policy choices. And they have gone all the while virtually unnoticed.

In this report, the Center for New Community's Building Democracy Initiative examines the House Immigration Reform Caucus.

The Anti-Immigrant Movement Sets the Stage

From the emergence of a new nativist movement in the late 1970s, groups such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) have sought influence inside Washington D.C….

Today, a dozen anti-immigrant organizations maintain national profiles. These groups have combined annual budgets of over twelve million dollars, and an active donor base of between six hundred thousand and seven hundred fifty thousand. As these national groups have expanded their influence, the number of state and local organizations has jumped up. Between January of 2005 and January of 2007, such groups have increased in number by 600 percent.

Formation of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus and Rep. Tom Tancredo

…Tom Tancredo founded the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus (hereinafter the Caucus or HIRC) in May 1999, soon after he began his first term as a Republican congressman from Colorado's Sixth District. During its first years, the Caucus had few members and served largely as a platform for Tancredo's views on immigration….

On August 1, 2001—five weeks before the events of 9-11—Tancredo introduced H.R. 2712, a bill intended to begin a moratorium on legal immigration, according to the Library of Congress' THOMAS website. Much of the recent public discussion on immigration policy has been voiced about "illegal" immigration. The particulars of this bill, however, demonstrate that opposition to legal entry remains an integral part of so-called immigration reform. This initial proposal would have cut the number of visas issued for family-sponsored immigrants to zero. And it would have cut the visas for "priority workers" to zero. The bill was referred to committee, however, and went nowhere. Undeterred, Tancredo introduced H.R. 3222 on November 1, 2001 with the intention of sharply reducing the number of H1-B visas issued to high-tech professionals. That bill also was referred and died in a subcommittee.

It is useful to remember that questions related to immigration have always been intertwined with questions of national identity. As Rep. Tancredo told one interviewer, "…if we don't control immigration, legal and illegal, we will eventually reach the point where it won't be what kind of a nation we are, balkanized or united, we will have to face the fact that we are no longer a nation at all…" His is a sentiment which has been oft repeated by members of the HIRC….

The year 2005 was a watershed year for the anti-immigrant movement. In April, the Minuteman organization was launched with an armed civilian "border watch" in Arizona. Although President Bush described the Minutemen as "vigilantes," the HIRC defended and praised the group in a "Field Report" entitled "Results and Implications of the Minuteman Project." In a separate statement, Caucus member Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) said, "The Minuteman Project is a shining example of how community initiative and involvement can help make America a safer, better place to live." The sentiment was echoed by the eight other congressmen cited in the press release.

Also in 2005, Tancredo personally introduced a resolution proposing that the Constitution be amended to establish English as the "official language," another resolution "recognizing the importance of Western civilization," legislation to enhance border enforcement and curtail H1-B visas, as well as several amendments aimed at changing federal enforcement policies. He introduced eleven different measures in all, none of which succeeded. But Tancredo had raised the flag of the anti-immigrant movement within Congress. By August, the Caucus registry had grown to 82 members of the House.

By December of that year, the House passed H.R. 4437, known popularly as the "Sensenbrenner Bill." James Sensenbrenner, a Republican from Wisconsin's 5th District, was first elected to congress in 1978, and was chairman of the House Judiciary Committee at the time. He was not then, and is not now, a member of Tancredo's Immigration Reform Caucus. Nevertheless, H.R. 4437 was widely regarded by both immigrant rights activists and moderates as an unnecessarily harsh bill that was unlikely to pass in the Senate. It would have turned undocumented immigrants into felons (current law considers this violation a misdemeanor) and thus make them ineligible for citizenship in the future. It would have also criminalized anyone who gave them assistance of any kind, including providing them with simple social welfare or routine medical services. The bill also called for the construction of 700 miles of fencing on the southern border.

The debate in Congress became so vicious that even conservatives were forced to comment on its racism. "Some anti-immigrant Republicans are guilty of demagoguery and racism," one Republican governor, Mike Huckabee from Arkansas, told the press.

Read the complete report; Nativism in the House: A Report on the House Immigration Reform Caucus


noopenborders said...

Actually you are about 100% WRONG here, the Minutemen & women, they respect all the laws of America, and are concerned about immigration! But they oppose Illegal Immigration, which your article falsely bundles with the word immigration or immigrants and makes NO difference between LEGAL & ILLEGAL, which your readers can see through your false pretenses.

As for these fellows being patriots, you could not find a better bunch of really red white & blue people, they have been in every war since the battle of the bulge to Iraq, and are very proud to be Americans! They do what our federal government refuses to do!

And yes it is about protecting our borders, if you were ACTUALLY go to the southern border for a weekend and observe what goes on there you would come home a changed person! I know, I did! And I was terrified at what goes on down there with the drug runners, and human trafficking.

So, lets educate ourselves here, it is NOT about RACE! It is about protecting the freedoms of the American Citizens; we all love and want to pass down to our children and grand children when we are gone.

Oh, don’t forget that congress just gave La Raza (the left wing wacko group who thinks it IS ALL ABOUT RACE) 10 MILLION dollars for funding! Did congress give the Minutemen anything? NO!

Just imagine if a group of people in the USA decided to form a school, and hold public meetings, and get donations from large corporations, and funding from the federal government and that group was designed to work for nobody but people of the WHITE RACE! What on earth would happen! Every group in America would be screaming! But there is a large double standard; we have thousands of groups that work for Asians, blacks, Hispanics, Italians, French, Russians, but nobody ever say’s anything about how racist they ARE! In the EXCLUSION of ALL races we become RACIST in those efforts to promote one specific race, so wake up La Raza, your number is coming up, and it is going to be a rough ride for you in the public’s eye!

It is not about being a Nationalist or protectionist. What Americans want is to protect what they have fought hundreds of years for and to preserve it for their future generations? Americans want immigrants to be welcome, and to assimilate into the fabric of this great country just as they have for hundreds of years. But the immigrant of today from many countries isn’t here to do that! Those immigrants want to work here, live here and get the benefits of what citizens of the USA have without assimilation! And that is just wrong, you would not do that if you moved to Japan, or England! Why is it ok to do it here? It is not, and that is where one of the problems lay. The immigrants of today for most part are very happy to have made the choice to become Americans, but those who retain the citizenship of their homeland expect that the USA will care for them and all their needs. Americans want to have immigrants come to America, but Americans like any other country in the world want immigration done the LEGAL way, and are against ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION in all aspects!

If you would like to see what actually goes on down in CA, come down to the border with us one weekend, but a word of caution here! Be prepared to have the crap scared out of you from what these people are doing to one another, and the environment there and to US!

It is good to have differing opinions, and we respect those who differ with us, but until those people who carry those opinions actually partake in what is happening at the BORDER in person, they will have no idea about the reality of every day life in the border towns of CA.

And again, you throw our more accusations about things in general about the group, get off your horse, and see for your self what goes on at the borders! Or maybe you are "too Busy at your computer spreading lies all day"...

Duke1676 said...

It's obvious from your opening statement in this long and disjointed defense of the minutemen that you read neither the excepted section of the report presented in this post nor the actually report itself.

I'm fully cognizant of the fact the as part of your concerted effort to warp public opinion, nativists and their racist allies will continually support the "big lie" that this issue has nothing to do with "legal" immigration", race, ethnic hegemony, or fear of loss of (white) cultural identity. But if you actually read the study cited you would see that your very post just confirms everything presented in the report.

Perhaps rather than listening to your "red WHITE and blue..true patriot" friends to get all your information on this topic….a little reading and research might be in order.

Tell you what …why not spend and hour or two reading through some of the information presented here on the site …try the "learn the facts" or "studies" sections….maybe you might than be able to discuss this topic without resorting to simply parroting talking points fed to you by zero immigration, restrictions groups like FAIR and ALIPAC

Anonymous said...

I am actually quite encouraged by this report. Encouraged by the fact that some elected officials in this country, officials elected by US citizens, are actually acting in the best interests of US citizens. Our Government and Congress has, for the most part, been hijacked by special interest groups who have been hell-bent on ramming an agenda through Congress that serves the purposes of and further enriches the few that is usually counter to the best interests of the taxpaying citizenry. Corporations that are addicted to cheap labor spend millions of dollars and countless hours on capitol hill lobbying Congress to act on THEIR behalf. Ethno-centric racist organizations such as La Raza, MALDEF and Lulac use taxpayer dollars, begotten through sinister methods, to lobby like-minded Congressmen such as Mel Martinez and Luis Guiterriez to support their agenda of gaining power and control in this country as well as spreading Socialism throughout the land. This country is supposed to be a melting pot however these Socialist and Internationalist groups have encouraged their own to continue to pour over the border, speak in their native tongue and to march in the streets of this country, streets paid for by the taxpayers, waving the flags of the lands that they supposedly fled because their Governments has not afforded them the opportunity to make a living. This country is not even a salad bowl any more, which is what it became when we started to become hyphenated-Americans, it's now more like a salad BAR. To top it all off the citizens have to look at Mexican flags flying higher than American flags over businesses run by people who only had the opportunity to open said business because they are in the United States. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. Ouch.

I have an idea, and it might take a big stretch of the imagination for those in favor of amnesty and open borders to comprehend. Since Mexico is such a corrupt country, as well as most other Latin American countries, why don't organizations such as your spend your time, energy, and resources trying to affect CHANGE in those countries. Instead of coming to the US and misusing our system of laws and our way of Governance AGAINST us, why don't you come up with a plan to oust the Spaniards (the minority) that run Mexico and control all of its wealth. You see, in this country, we believe in taking care of ourselves and getting rid of corrupt Government. Hence the Minutemen and other patriotic groups who have taken it upon themselves to take care of the land and the citizens since the elitists that run the Federal Government and Congress have decided that they don't much care for enforcing laws that might upset their corporate masters. That's the way it is in the USA. It is our country and we take matters into our own hands when our system of Governance is being abused. If you don't like it, then go CHANGE your own country to be what you want instead of coming here and CHANGING what has taken hundreds of years to build here. Maybe if you also spent some time reading and "learning the facts" you would find out what this country is all about instead of throwing your hands in the air and deciding that the opposition is simply "racist".

Duke1676 said...

As someone who was born and raised in this country and lived through the McCarthey Era, Civil-Rights movement, anti-war movement, Nixon's Southern Strategy, Reagan's "welfare queens", Bush I's "Willie Horton" and now the nativists "Mexican invasion" I believe I need no lessons in what this Country "is all about" ...perhaps some basic education in history might be in order for all those who think that their brand of neo-know-nothing philosophy is something new. ...but I've seen it all before, and eventually it will go the way of all past philosophies based on ignorance and intolerance.

Anonymous said...

Duke, I gather that you don't think 20 million people walking in and taking over is an invasion.

The problem with left wing elitists like yourself is that you rarely live in the real world. The most work you've probably done was to carry signs condemning the Vietnam war and supporting Jane Fonda. Walking around protesting is not a job and reality isn't found in books or studies, reality is in the street and on the job. While you and your friends are commiserating about the plight of the poor illegal alien over lunch, the guy whose picking up your dishes is probably working for less than minimum wage trying to support a woman and three or four children who are living in a two bedroom apartment with two other families in the same condition. They use the emergency room at the local hospital (if there still is one) as if it were their personal doctor's office. They collect aid to dependent children and HUD aid and send their kids, who don't speak English, to public schools at our expense.

You claim to have seen it all and yet the only events you speak of are political. I've picked cotton when it was $3.00 per hundred pounds; packed peaches; worked on fishing trawlers: driven trucks and hung drywall for a living. Americans, who were not academically inclined used to be able to raise a family and send their kids through school doing construction work. You couldn't make a decent living doing any of those jobs today because there are too many people in this country illegally who are willing to live on top of each other and work for a less than a livable wage.

Mexicans have a country, instead of encouraging them to come here, close the border and let them fix their country by getting rid of the corruption they themselves have allowed to fester there.

yave said...

It takes so much energy to respond to these comments that pop up at all the pro-migrant sites. I think that is part of the plan--wear down people's resistance by sheer volume: meaning loudness and quantity.

But there's so little common ground right now on which to have a discussion, that I've almost given up trying to respond to them--at least in these more activist fora (this blog, LatinaLista, ImmigrationProf Blog, etc.). They're not here to discuss reasonable solutions--they're here to vent. From an activist's perspective, acknowledging them is usually a distraction. TPM, Borjas, maybe some other economics blogs, maybe Immigration Orange due to very active moderation by Kyle--perhaps a reasonable discussion can be had there. But otherwise it just devolves quickly into something productive for neither side. It's sad, but there's just so little flexibility in the discourse of most restrictionists I've encountered that it's rarely worth engaging them.

In some cases, it's turned the whole concept of "trolling" on its head, when troll posts outnumber non-troll posts. It's very hard to remain civil in that dynamic. It's messed up.

Just my two cents.

Duke1676 said...

recently someone started putting up some of my posts over at the ALIPAC forum to rile up the xenophobe crowd - so the troll quotient has increased exponentially.

I use to try to refute them point by point, but gave up on that tactic a while ago when I realized they don't really care much about facts or reality based thinking ...they know what they know and nothings going to change their minds (you can see that with the unbelievable amount of misinformation and parroting of the same old talking points from the FAIR playbook in this comment thread)'s no longer worth my time to refute these kind of comments based solely and completely on ignorance.

needless to say I've had to turn the comment moderation back on.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit that I was just surfing the web and came across your website and this report by Center for New Communities. To be honest with you, I am a believer in strong enforcment but the picture painted by the report is very disturbing.

Perhaps in our zeal to make sense of illegal immigration some of our leaders have made friendships with organizations that I now know are suspect in their real intentions. Because,one of the Congressmen is mine I made a phone call to her office this morning about her connection to HIRC.

While I don't agree with the politics of your website...I guess I have to admit that even a broken clock is right twice-a-day. I can admit that you have brought up in important issue.

Not all of us concerned about immigration are extremists like HIRC but I think if we keep associating with groups like the pro-abortion FAIR that people will begin to think we are.

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