Mort Kondracke: "'Nativist Lobby' is Winning on Immigration" (Roll Call)
The failure of Congress and two presidents to enact immigration reform is plunging the nation into an ugly future. Call it the Arizonification of America.
Quite apart from the ghastly shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) and 19 others in Tucson, Ariz., the state truly has become, as Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik described it, “a mecca for racism and bigotry” — largely over immigration.
It has become a state of Minuteman vigilantism, death threats against politicians and judges, talk-radio demagoguery, and bullying of Latinos and rival politicians by “America’s toughest sheriff,” Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County.
Now, governors and legislators in 23 other states are considering following Arizona’s lead in directing local police to act as immigration officers. And politicians in several states are contriving to, in effect, amend the U.S. Constitution to deny citizenship to children born in the U.S. if their parents are illegal immigrants.
All this represents a high-water mark in the influence of the “nativist lobby” — a richly funded assemblage of national and local groups organized by Michigan ophthalmologist John Tanton.
The groups, which have gained respectability, include the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the Center for Immigration Studies and NumbersUSA. But some investigations have tied Tanton to white-supremacist ideology as well.
The move to end birthright citizenship is led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is affiliated with FAIR’s legal arm.
Tanton’s groups are making use of economic hard times to argue that immigrants — legal and illegal — are stealing jobs from Americans and straining government budgets. It’s largely bogus because immigrants tend to take jobs that Americans won’t or can’t do and because illegal workers pay taxes but can’t get benefits.When federal Judge Susan Bolton halted enforcement of major parts of the law, she received hate mail and death threats...
And so did Judge John Roll, when he ruled in 2009 that illegal immigrants could sue a local rancher on charges of harassment. Roll died in the Tucson shooting rampage at the hands of deranged gunman Jared Loughner.
Loughner had nothing to do with the immigration issue, but there has been plenty of other ugliness in Arizona over it. Does America really want that to metastasize nationwide?
"Jeb Bush and Latino Outreach" (RealClearPolitics):
Bush told the gathering that, because of the growth of the Latino population nationwide, it would be "incredibly stupid" for the Republican Party to ignore these votes.
Frankly, Governor, "ignoring" would be a step up in GOP-Hispanic relations. More often than not, what happens now is that Republican candidates at the local, state and national level use Hispanics as a convenient foil to scare up votes from whites who are terrified of the coming demographic realignment and unsure of where they fit in the new scheme.
The terrified include right-wing radio host Mark Levin, who pounced on Bush for "race-baiting" and called his remarks "divisive" and "destructive of conservatism." Levin also accused Bush of not being "that bright" and lacking a basic "understanding of the greatness of this nation."
Levin has it backward. Repairing the breach between Republicans and Hispanics won't destroy conservatism; it will help save it. And much of the greatness of this nation is wrapped up, first and foremost, in its immigrant tradition, which some conservatives seem to want to unravel by limiting legal immigration.
No one summed up the GOP's predicament better than Lincoln Diaz-Balart, the former Republican congressman from Florida. Since the United States is a nation of immigrants, he said, the American people would probably never again allow Republicans to become the country's majority party if they see them as being anti-immigrant.
I'll add: With Hispanics on track to make up 30 percent of the U.S. population by 2050 and likely to decide elections not just in Texas, California and Florida but all over the country, the perception that the GOP is hostile to Latinos is also hazardous to the health of the party.
Yet, even at a gathering like this, where many agree that the Republican Party has a problem with Hispanics, there were those who clung to the idea that the issue is simply one of tone -- easily fixed by a few turns of the public relations screwdriver.
Wrong. As I said during my panel, the GOP doesn't just have a problem with tone. It's not that simple. When it comes to immigration, the Republican message is toxic. There is too much dishonesty, too much racism, and too many simplistic solutions to what is a complicated problem.
If the GOP wants to make a serious play for Hispanic voters in 2012 and beyond, this has to change. The party is struggling with demons. It doesn't need a publicist. It needs an exorcist.
Second-Class 'Citizen of the Year' (RFE/RL)
She's young, bright, well educated, and she loves her adoptive country, Norway.
She recently published a successful book and was even named "2010 Citizen of the Year" by a Norwegian magazine.
Yet the Russian-born Maria Amelie remains an illegal migrant after almost a decade in Norway and faces imminent deportation.
Her story, which she recounted in her book "Illegal Norwegian" published in September, has moved many in Norway.
Rights groups, politicians, and celebrities have thrown their weight behind the 25-year-old Amelie. Some 1,000 supporters rallied for her release in Oslo this week, and some 90,000 people have joined her support group on Facebook.
Amelie, who was released on January 18 after being briefly placed in a detention center for migrants near Oslo, insists her home is in Norway, not Russia.
"I live in constant fear," she told NRK, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, shortly after her release. "As soon as I pause for a few minutes, it becomes difficult to breathe, which is the way I felt at the detention center. I've come a long way, I've fought for myself. My friends and the whole country supported me in this fight. Where am I supposed to go now? My home is here, in Norway."
Norwegian authorities, however, have refused to bow to pressure. Amelie was detained by eight police officers on January 12 and placed in a detention center for migrants near Oslo where she said she was treated like "a criminal."...
"She managed to learn fluent Norwegian within a year and a half, she graduated from high school with only top grades two years after arriving in Norway," Lindeman says. "She managed to enter university, where she gained a master's degree with top grades."
Morally, the right and wrong of this issue is as clear as the racial segregation issue in the 1960s.