Conservative Spotlight: Project USA

What makes Project USA different from the other immigration reform groups that also represent the long-settled opinions of the vast majority of the American people on the immigration issue—opinions that our cultural and political elites have chosen to ignore? “Project USA is a bit scrappier, using a bit more aggressive public actions to excite controversy,” said director Craig Nelsen. In particular, Project USA likes to buy billboards advocating the politically incorrect position of reducing immigration levels. Nelsen said that immigration reformers’ main problem has been getting the immigration issue on the agenda. So perhaps those reformers should actually be glad that President Bush proposed a radical immigration plan, in which he called for granting an amnesty to illegal aliens working in this country and for allowing American businesses to import an unlimited number of foreign workers. “Bush’s announcement was a windfall for us. He’s done what we’ve wanted, which is make immigration an issue,” said Nelsen. “The White House doesn’t understand the depth of feeling on this issue.” Project USA wants a temporary suspension of most immigration into the country, an “immigration time out.” “The last one lasted 40 years, from 1925 to 1965,” said Nelsen. “Assimilation worked really well. The middle class expanded enormously. In 1965, Senators Ted Kennedy, Jacob Javits, and others pushed through a bill opening the floodgates.” To this day, said Nelsen, most immigration into America is legal, not illegal. Samuel Gompers, an immigrant and founder and president of the American Federation of Labor (AFL), wrote a letter to Congress on March 19, 1924, in which he said, according to Project USA’s website, “Every effort to enact [restrictive] immigration legislation must expect to meet a number of hostile forces and, in particular, two hostile forces of considerable strength. One of these is composed of corporation employers who desire to employ physical strength at the lowest possible wage and who prefer a rapidly revolving labor supply at low wages to a regular supply of American wage earners at fair wages. The other is composed of racial groups in the United States who oppose all restrictive legislation because they want the doors left open for an influx of their countrymen regardless of the menace to the people of their adopted country.” “Somehow, there’s a massive disconnect between the American people and our leaders,” Nelsen said. Asked why an honest debate about reducing immigration is so difficult to hold, he replied, “The country is obsessed with skin color. . . . Because the skin color of the people coming across the border happens to be different, we have trouble talking about our concern for the working poor.” Nelsen said that high levels of immigration depress wages and put strains on public services, disproportionately harming Americans at the lower end of the economic ladder. There is also a cultural problem with too much immigration: Immigrants come “from an alien culture,” said Nelsen. “You can’t continue this flood forever without a backlash.” No one really knows what Bush’s plan will do to the country, he said. “The Bush proposal, there’s no study done anywhere on the effects of what allowing the whole world to bid on working here would have on the American economy and the American worker.” Says an article on View from the Right, linked to by Project USA, “This essentially means open borders to any Third Worlder who can underbid an American for a job. As long as there’s an American employer who would rather pay a Mexican minimum wage than pay an American somewhat more for the same job, that means, under the terms of Bush’s program, that there is ‘no American willing to take that job.'” “Born in New York on May 1, 1999, with the posting of a small factual billboard on immigration,” says Project USA’s website, “Project USA is now a national non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public through open and honest debate.” Project USA is targeting congressional districts this year where it feels that incumbents are especially out of sync with their more immigration-reform-minded constituents, and it has a citizens’ petition urging Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft to use federal law to prevent the issuance of drivers’ licenses and other forms of ID to illegal aliens. Nelsen said that many incumbent pro-immigration politicians could lose their seats if the immigration issue continues to heat up. “If immigration becomes a prominent issue, they’re sunk,” he said. Project USA may be reached at P.O. Box 15641, Washington, D.C. 20003 (e-mail:; website: