Winning the Battle on Illegal Immigration – Implementing a New Strategy

By Ronald W. Mortensen on September 10, 2010

My three previous blogs have explored the reasons behind our general lack of success in the battle over illegal immigration and argued that we need a new strategy if we are to eventually win the battle.

The strategy that follows, based in part on my own experience with the Utah legislature, takes a holistic approach to ending illegal immigration and integrates all of our diverse efforts into a single, comprehensive program. It has three main components:

  1. Defining Ourselves and the Opposition. Put a human face on all of our arguments and use emotion effectively to influence public opinion and policy makers.

  2. Messaging. Develop effective messaging, public relations skills and alternative methods of getting our message out.

  3. Taking Political Action. Translate all of our efforts into political action at the federal, state, local, and neighborhood levels.

The strategy begins by taking the best of what we are currently doing, eliminating the dysfunctional aspect of our efforts and incorporating lessons learned from the proponents of illegal immigration.

Perhaps, the most important change to our current strategy and tactics involves putting a sympathetic human face on all of our efforts and effectively using emotion to influence both the general public and policymakers. When we do this, we define both ourselves and the opposition and we achieve greater success in achieving our goals.

As used in this strategy, emotion refers to the feelings engendered by our arguments. These can include compassion, anger, sympathy, sadness, indignation, guilt, and shame.

The way we present our arguments is key to winning the battle on illegal immigration. We must develop and effectively disseminate a limited number of simple, clear, consistent messages that are specifically designed to influence our target audiences through a combination of reason and emotion.

Given the fact that the "mainstream media" is strongly biased in favor of illegal immigration and illegal aliens, we have to use the alternative media to disseminate our message until such time it becomes so compelling that the media elites can no longer ignore it.

On the political front, we need to translate our efforts into strong, effective political action that results in illegal aliens, their advocates, and employers either voluntarily complying with current immigration, identity theft, and other laws or being forced to comply through strong enforcement action.

In addition, we have to repeal laws that benefit illegal aliens, we have to amend immigration and other laws that are not doing what they are intended to do, and we have to pass new laws to give law enforcement and citizens the tools they need to effectively fight illegal immigration.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we need to set aside our egos and differences. We must stay focused on our common goals of ending illegal immigration and of denying amnesty to tens of millions of illegal aliens who have built a better life for themselves and their families by seriously compromising the lives and futures of millions of American men, women, and children.

How exactly do we do this? The following provides a general outline with examples of how we can implement this strategy and tactics.

1. Making the Emotional Argument

Focus on the Human Element

  • Build emotion and the human element into all of our arguments in order to define ourselves and our opponents and to debunk the myth of the noble illegal alien.

  • Read "Illegal Aliens: Turning the Dreams of American Children into Nightmares" in order to understand how a single illegal immigrant family can destroy the futures of multiple American children. Provide copies of this story to friends, neighbors, policy makers, and to the political, media, religious, civic elites who support illegal aliens.

  • Include the faces and stories of the American men, women and especially children who suffer real, demonstrable harm in all of our arguments.

  • As often as possible, point out the fact that at least three-quarters of illegal aliens have committed one or more felonies in order to get jobs – using a fraudulently obtained Social Security number, falsifying I-9 forms under penalty of perjury and committing identity theft under state laws.

  • Have legal immigrants talk about their frustrations with illegal immigration. (Click here to listen to the emotional testimony of a legal immigrant in support of Utah's version of the Arizona bill. This testimony begins at 1:50:18 into the hearing.)

  • Shine the spotlight on employers who refuse to use E-Verify so they can employ illegal aliens using children's stolen Social Security numbers in spite of the fact that this can have life-threatening consequences for the children. Point out that these employers are literally sacrificing American children for profits since the use of E-Verify stops virtually all job-related child identity theft.

  • Tell the stories of children who are victims of illegal alien-driven identity theft. Explain that the Social Security Administration, the IRS, Congress, and the executive branch of the federal government, along with state agencies, protect illegal aliens using the Social Security numbers of American citizens from arrest, prosecution, and deportation. (Click here to listen to the frustration of the mother of a child who has ten people using her Social Security number, at 2:26:35 into the hearing.)

  • Demonstrate how federal, state, and local elected and law enforcement officials sacrifice American children when they succumb to what amounts to blackmail by illegal aliens who demand immunity from arrest and prosecution for document fraud and identity theft in return for ambiguous promises of cooperation at some future time. Have families of identity theft victims explain their frustrations with law enforcement agencies that do not actively pursue child identity theft cases and/or who make no virtually no effort to prevent illegal alien-driven child identity theft.

  • Have children and the parents of children who are the victims of illegal alien-driven identity theft form associations, get their stories out to the media, testify before legislative committees, lobby elected officials, and ask community and business groups to join the fight against illegal immigration.

  • Accurately portray religious, business, civic, media, education, and other elites who support illegal aliens as mean-spirited and cruel because they knowingly and willfully sacrifice American children for the benefit of illegal aliens.

  • Show how religious leaders extend full membership to illegal aliens who are committing job-related felonies and destroying the lives of children in the community in order to fill their pews. Have the families of children whose identities have been used for illegal employment purposes ask religious leaders to tell their members that document fraud, perjury, and identity theft are not acceptable and that they must stop committing these serious felonies and make restitution to the victims.

  • Tell the stories of the forgotten immigrants who play by the rules and stay in their home countries until legally authorized to enter the United States, often at risk to their own lives.

  • Show how illegal immigration contributes to human smuggling. Tell the stories of individuals raped and murdered by coyotes and drug cartels involved in human smuggling. Explain how the advocates for illegal aliens contribute to these crimes by creating the permissive environment and the cover that is required for them to exist.

  • Illustrate the impact that illegal aliens on hospitals and health care costs.

  • Show how states discriminate against American citizens by granting public benefits to the American-born children of illegal immigrants while denying the same benefits to the children of American citizens. This occurs because officials fail to capture the total income of illegal-alien households.

  • Emphasize the effectively racist nature of the United States' current illegal immigration policy, its lack of diversity and how it discriminates against foreign nationals from Africa and many parts of Asia who face much greater hardships and dangers than do the vast majority of illegal aliens from Mexico and other central and south American countries.

  • Show how progressives, social justice advocates, self-described revolutionaries, and separatists use illegal immigration to achieve their goals of fundamentally changing the American political and economic systems.

Avoid Emotional Outbursts and Extraneous Arguments

  • Don't use inflammatory language when talking about illegal aliens, their children, or their supporters. Keep the focus on the victims of illegal aliens and the harm that they are suffering. Make sure descriptive words and terms used are factually accurate.

  • Don't propose unrealistic solutions that divert attention away from those things that can realistically be achieved.

  • Maintain civil relations with illegal aliens and their advocates.

  • Don't talk down to or argue with people who disagree with you. Find out why they disagree and explain your concerns to them without attacking illegal aliens or using loaded terms. Focus on the victims of illegal aliens rather than on the illegal aliens themselves. For example, "Do you know that 75 percent of illegal aliens commit serious job-related felonies and that an estimated 1.1 million children in Arizona are the victims of illegal alien-driven, job-related identity theft? We can’t allow illegal aliens to make better lives for themselves by destroying the good names and futures of American children."

  • Don't threaten elected officials with defeat unless you are absolutely certain that you can carry through with your threat. Since this is almost never possible, be polite and civil, otherwise you risk having a strong enemy for years to come rather than someone you can at least have a civil conversation with.

  • Never engage in heated public debates since you risk saying or doing something that you will later regret and which will give the other side ammunition to use against us. Don't react to the actions or words of our opponents. If provoked by the other side, walk away – don't respond.

2. Messaging

  • Designate sympathetic, media-savvy spokespersons.

  • Don't count on the mainstream media to give us a fair shake. Develop and use a wide range of alternative media sources. Use every opportunity possible to correct the mainstream media's reporting. Ultimately, force the mainstream media to acknowledge and eventually address the negative impacts of illegal immigration by getting large numbers of people to demand action.

  • When writing factual reports don't just rely on statistics but include the human and emotional elements by giving examples of what the statistics mean for individuals by telling their individual stories.

  • Settle on a limited number of simple, clear, and easy-to-present key messages and repeat the ones you are most comfortable with and find to be the most effective over and over again.

  • Design messages to influence the general public and policy makers rather than the people who already agree with us. Always focus on the victims of illegal immigration and the harm they suffer; don't denigrate illegal aliens or their supporters.

  • Be ready to refute the three most common myths about illegal aliens: 1) Illegal aliens are "undocumented" 2) illegal aliens are law-abiding and 3) illegal immigration is a victimless crime by reading the CIS Backgrounder "Illegal but Not Undocumented: Identity Theft, Document Fraud and Illegal Employment."

  • Create messages for specific audiences – one size doesn't fit all. The cost of public benefits provided for the children of illegal aliens may resonate with a conservative taxpayers group, whereas in-state college tuition for illegal aliens may be a hot button topic for the parents of college students who cannot get the courses they need to graduate. Child identity theft and illegal alien job-related felonies seem to play well with all groups but they still need to be combined with the group's own hot button topic(s).

  • Create a 30-second and a one-minute elevator speech that we can use to explain our position on illegal immigration.

  • Create and distribute one- or two-page summaries of studies and fact sheets that can be quickly read and digested.

  • Take our messages to businesses with fact sheets about illegal alien identity theft that focus on the plight of children who are victims of this crime. Don't hesitate to use the (accurate) term "sacrificing children for profits."

  • Periodically review messages and update them as required to reflect changed circumstances.

3. Political Action

  • Work together in groups rather than as individuals to maximize our influence. Create a large number of independent, small groups focused on specific areas, such as Mothers Against Illegal Alien Driven Child Identity Theft, Legal Immigrants for Immigration Enforcement, Advocates for the Forgotten Immigrants, Citizens Against Human Trafficking, etc.

  • Build loose coalitions of independent groups as force multipliers. Include veterans (American Legion, VFW, etc.), Tea Party, 9/12, political parties, child advocacy groups, etc. Have one spokesperson speak for the coalition and when advantageous have spokespersons for individual groups speak out as well. Don't demand that all groups agree on all issues. Agree where we can and agree to disagree when we can't agree. Debate and challenge each other privately and without rancor. Keep disagreements out of the public arena to the maximum extent possible.

  • Put individual egos aside and focus on the overall goal rather than on personal recognition and in insisting on "my way or no way."

  • Don't overplay our hand as the debate turns in our favor. Remember what happened to our opponents when they became overconfident.

  • Develop legislation, find sponsors, and train citizen lobbyists to help get the legislation passed. Mobilize groups to support legislation through phone calls, e-mails, letters, personal visits to legislators, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, press conferences, letters to the editor, comments on news stories, op-eds, etc.

  • Meet one-on-one with your elected officials. Call them and talk personally to them. Be well-prepared and show how supporting your position will help them. Focus heavily on the human and emotional aspects of illegal immigration. Take children who have their identities being used by illegal aliens with you.

  • Encourage good people to run for office and then actively support them both during their campaigns and while they are in office. Once elected, don't leave them on their own but help them resist the pressures of high-powered lobbyists, pro-illegal-alien groups, and the political, religious, civic, and media elites who support illegal immigration.

  • Provide continuous oversight of all elected and other public officials to ensure that they uphold their oaths of office and do not give illegal aliens special privileges or immunity from identity theft and other laws.

  • Frequent only those businesses that use E-Verify and encourage others to do the same. Refuse to patronize businesses that refuse to protect children from job-related identity theft and let them know why they have lost your business.

  • Meet with your opponents. Talk to them about job-related crimes committed by illegal aliens and the very real harm being done to American children and others. Find out what their arguments are and try to find common ground for solutions.

  • Avoid rallies and demonstrations unless you are certain that you can control the turnout, the message, and the comportment of those speaking and attending. The mainstream media will look for any opportunity to discredit you.

While this integrated strategy will help us win the battle over illegal immigration, it is not self-enacting. Unless we are all actively engaged, we will lose. Likewise, this strategy is not all-inclusive and we must continuously be ready to add new elements to it and to adapt it as the situation evolves.

If you have comments or suggestions, please e-mail them to [email protected].

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