Borking Immigration Hawks

The pro-amnesty Right is borrowing its views and its tactics from the Left.

By Mark Krikorian on February 19, 2013

National Review, February 19, 2013

Remember this?

Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens.

The high-immigration Right has borrowed not only its immigration-policy views from Ted Kennedy, but now his political tactics as well. Grover Norquist, Linda Chavez, American Conservative Union president Al Cardenas — and Senator Marco Rubio — have launched a campaign to bork those on the right who disagree with President Obama's immigration plans.

The immediate basis of the smear campaign is an article in Human Life Review claiming that the organizations working for less immigration — the advocacy groups Numbers USA and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and my own think tank, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) — represent a cabal of abortion-crazed leftists motivated not by concern for the well-being of America but by a hidden population-control agenda. (I don't say "cabal" for effect — that's actually the word used in a Politico op-ed by the president and policy director of the American Principles Project.)

Don't take my word for it — read the Human Life Review piece. Ramesh Ponnuru is right that the review's editors, like everyone else involved in this attempt to stifle debate, "should be embarrassed." The article declares that "to CIS, seemingly every supposed problem in the world can be solved by decreasing the size of the human population." CIS is said to be "openly terrified of increases in national population."

This is hilarious stuff for anyone who's read my postings at NRO. (More than a decade's worth are listed here.) What's more, the Census Bureau projects that future immigration (rather than the decisions Americans make about how many children to have) will add 100 million people to our population over the next half-century. It's perfectly reasonable to point out that a government social-engineering program of this magnitude will have implications for our quality of life. But CIS has never taken, and will never take, any position on abortion or euthanasia — or on the flat tax or defense spending either, for that matter.

This effort closely parallels a campaign started by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2007 to marginalize mainstream immigration skeptics as Klansmen and skinheads. That effort is explored in some detail here, in a piece by Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter Jerry Kammer, who is now with CIS.

Both the SPLC and the current smear campaign started with the publication of a report that served as the focal point for other groups. The SPLC published a report designating FAIR a "hate group" (as it did later with the Family Research Council), just as Human Life Review published the above-mentioned article, written by one Mario Lopez of the Hispanic Leadership Fund (whose board includes Norquist, Chavez, Cardenas, the governor of Puerto Rico, former senator Mel Martinez, and others). Other organizations then pointed to the reports in follow-up op-eds, press releases, panel discussions, and closed-door meetings. The SPLC report was key to the National Council of La Raza's "We Can Stop the Hate" campaign and to the establishment of America's Voice as a "war room" for the open-borders Left. The Human Life Review article has served the same purpose at Norquist's Wednesday Meeting and for presentations by Alfonso Aguilar of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles.

This latest effort is the conservative version of declaring CIS, Numbers USA, and FAIR "hate groups," and the goal in both cases is the same: to silence dissent and thus avoid a debate that Norquist and the SPLC would lose.

The desperation of the high-immigration Right is palpable. Like the Left with Obamacare, they fear that if voters and lawmakers actually engage, in detail, the specific issues at hand, their cause will be defeated. This is why, again as happened with Obamacare, they insist on a "comprehensive" amnesty bill, a 1,000-page monstrosity that no congressman could even skim before voting on, as a way to reach their goal of not only amnesty but also effectively unlimited future immigration.

That desperation comes through in the rhetoric of participants in the smear campaign. Aguilar, for instance, told the Washington Post that "if these groups can be unmasked, then the bulk of the opposition to immigration reform on the conservative side will wither away." You always want opponents to believe their own press releases, but this smells like over-compensation; I can't imagine anyone could be that dim regarding the concerns that conservative (and many moderate and even liberal) voters have over immigration.

These conservative supporters of the Obama immigration agenda are even using material produced by their leftist allies to denounce immigration skeptics as leftists. For instance, Lopez, the author of the Human Life Review article, distributed this flyer at a recent Norquist meeting. One side of it is produced by the National Immigration Forum, a left-wing open-borders group that has included on its board and staff some of the most odious figures in American political life this side of Bill Ayers. The following week — after I pointed out the origin of his material — Lopez was invited by Rubio's staff to distribute his flyer at a meeting of conservative Senate staff; the National Immigration Forum content had disappeared.

But there are many prominent conservatives who are opposed to the Obama/Rubio agenda, and who have worked closely with various low-immigration groups and activists for years. From the perspective of those launching this smear campaign, there would seem to be only two explanations for the continued opposition of conservative immigration hawks to this agenda: They are either so obtuse that they have no ability to judge the people they're working with, or they're actually part of the vast abortionist conspiracy.

So, I'd like to ask Norquist and his ilk what they think the explanation is. Do they think Phyllis Schlafly is stupid, or evil? Do they think Senator Jeff Sessions is stupid, or evil? Do they think Senator Ted Cruz is stupid, or evil? Do they think National Review is stupid, or evil?

It's got to be one or the other, from their standpoint. Which is it?