The Corner

A Look at the Open-Borders Left

The lefty site Firedoglake recently interviewed Frank Sharry, until recently head of the National Immigration Forum, and as such the Moriarty at the center of the web of open-borders lobbying. He talked about his new group, which seems to be trying to be an open-borders version of Numbers USA. I don’t want to fisk the interview, but there were a few interesting points:

Well, following the defeat of the Senate immigration bill a number of immigrant advocates were engaged in trying to figure out what went wrong and what we needed to do, and clearly one of the areas where we failed was in framing and driving the debate in the media.

Because, you know, the media are insufficiently enthusiastic about amnesty.

And how can we forget the radio and cable talkers who spew their venom every day and night?

Gee, sounds just like Trent Lott.

[McCain] spent a lot of political capital on this issue. I’ve been in the back room with him many times when, you know, it was a question of whether he was going to stay strong or back off, and he always stayed strong. But that changed.

That changed, following the defeat of the Senate immigration bill and the fact that he was losing altitude in his presidential run, he shifted positions, and said border security first. I suspect that he’s being deliberately vague so that he doesn’t paint himself into a corner. He’s not saying, attrition through enforcement. He’s saying border security first.

Don’t say you weren’t warned.

I suspect that, in his heart, given what he’s done and what I’ve seen up close, is that he would like to enact comprehensive immigration reform if president. But the fact is that he doesn’t think he can get elected president by saying that. And it’s because he’s afraid of losing Republican base voters who are in the thrall of the anti-immigrant movement.


As Cecilia Munoz [of the National Council of La Raza] often says, we thought we were in a policy debate. Up until the end of June. And in fact we were in a cultural war.

Yes, exactly — a culture war between nationalists and post-nationalists.

And no less an authority on racism than Trent Lott was overheard on the Senate Floor as Republicans were lining up to vote no on this bill, having indicated to the White House earlier they were leaning towards voting for it, and he went up and said, ‘This is about racism.’ He was overheard talking to some fellow Republicans. And you know, if Trent Lott says it’s about racism, I’m guessing he knows something about it.

With friends like Lott, the GOP didn’t need enemies.

Look, the Republican Party, for 25 years, has feasted on issues like this. You know — crime, welfare, affirmative action, gay marriage. Illegal immigration fits squarely in that tradition of racially charged, culturally charged wedge issues. And they are, in the absence of evidence, they still seem convinced that this is a winning strategy. It’s remarkable.

Hmm, we made some good progress on crime, tightened up welfare a little bit, Ward Connerly is making headway on affirmative action — I’d say that’s a pretty good track record.

So the Republicans are committing a mistake of historic proportions, and the Democrats are divided over whether to hide behind their desks or to play offense. And so the Democrats could blow this if they continue to spout a Republican Lite line. They actually are going to have to unite in favor of a solution, stick their chins out, stick their necks out, and win the argument. And if they don’t, we won’t have reform, and I suspect it will hurt Democrats not only with Latino immigrant voters but with swing voters as well.

Boy, I hope the Dems take your advice, Frank. It’s only by hiding behind their desks (or behind McCain) that they prevent the issue from becoming more politically potent.

Yeah. And you know, we supported it [the 2007 amnesty bill], even though it was very difficult to do so, and it was painful. Believe me. We did so for a couple of reasons. One, the legalization provisions were pretty damned good. Two, we knew if it passed the Senate, it would have to get better in the House in order to attract the kind of support from Democrats that would be needed to get it across the finish line. … One of my inside-the-Beltway type friends, Wade Henderson, kept saying, ’Look, everything can be fixed. But we need legalization.’

This is a great illustration of how any promises of enforcement are simply lies designed to get an irreversible legalization program in place — the spoonful of enforcement to help the amnesty go down.

The issues aren’t clear enough, we haven’t done a good enough job of making the issue clear — that it’s between mass deportation and earned citizenship. And I think the moral, the practical and the political dimensions are going to work in our direction.

The issue is plenty clear, actually — it’s clear that this is the same old false choice. And we’re seeing proof that the middle way of attrition through enforcement is actually working.

The Latino immigrant community is under siege. State and local initiatives, agreements between local cops and the feds, more aggressive federal enforcement is making many undocumented immigrants and their legal family members very scared. A recent poll suggested a quarter are thinking of leaving the country because of economic conditions and anti-immigrant measures. This is why it’s important for those of us who are not immigrants to stand up with and for them. This will be a defining issue of our generation. Let’s make sure we win this war.

So, attrition works after all — it’s just that the Left doesn’t want the illegals to go home.


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