Of all the questions that I get asked (via email and in interviews) regarding the chronic crisis of illegal immigration, the most frequent is, “why do our elected representatives feel so safe in opposing the will of the overwhelming majority of Americans on this issue?”
After all, it is pointed out, most polls show that Americans, regardless of party affiliation, oppose continued tolerance of immigration crime by a 2:1 margin or better. This means that politicians, fanatical bean counters when it comes to polling data, are risking the disapproval of a net 69 million Americans of voting age — all in an attempt to curry favor with an estimated 12 million illegal aliens and their supporters. How is this possible, especially since not one illegal alien can vote legally? Why do politicians seem to think that the opinion of one illegal alien is worth that of six Americans?
There are several reasons. One is that illegal labor is the basis of a very profitable underground economy. The corrupt corporations and individuals that make money by undercutting the wages of Americans have bought quite a bit of influence with their illegal profits. But money goes only so far, even in politics. The donations of Tyson Foods and its ilk cannot alone explain the confident disregard in which most politicians hold for their own constituents on this issue.
Other contributing factors include the sense of safety provided to politicians by the mainstream media’s ideological filtering of any news regarding immigration criminals, and their desire to win support from hyphenated Americans that believe their loyalty is owed to their racial group rather than to their countrymen. But again, these factors are not strong enough alone, or even in combination, to successfully explain politicians’ calculated defiance without some larger and more significant factor added to the equation.
This larger factor is that politicians understand that it does not matter what Americans think, it only matters how they vote. Americans may complain about illegal immigration, but they base their votes on other issues. War, taxes, education, minimum wage laws, abortion, judicial nominees, health care, subsidy and other issues all combine to trump any consensus on immigration. When voters are offered ballot initiatives on fighting immigration crime, these single-issue resolutions pass overwhelmingly. But when voters are offered a standard election between two candidates, one of whom is tough on immigration issues and the other of whom is a prostitute on immigration issues, most voters choose the candidate promising more free stuff.
Contrast this behavior to that of the proponents of open borders. If you’re an “entrepreneur” whose whole business model is built around sweatshop labor, you vote based on immigration policies. If you’re a member of a racist identity group, such as La Raza, you vote on immigration policy. And if you’re an illegal alien hoping for amnesty and citizenship, you will promise your future voting power to anyone that thinks your way on just one issue: immigration, particularly your illegal immigration.
Politicians understand that it matters what you believe, but it matters even more how passionately you believe it.
Until a substantial fraction of the anti-open-borders electorate votes based in large part upon a politician’s actions on illegal immigration, the political math will remain that one illegal alien cancels out six distracted Americans. It is this math that has led to a new amnesty bill (Flake/Gutierrez) being introduced into Congress last week. Many politicians, including the President, believe they can pass the amnesty now and by the time the 2008 election finally gets here, you’ll be so worried about Hilllary-care, or Iran, or a recession, or gas prices, that you’ll forget how mad you were when they gave away the country before your stunned eyes.
The number of Americans that would need to organize and vote around the issue would not need to be large. Consider what the National Rifle Association has been able to accomplish politically with a dedicated membership of small size, compared to the electorate as a whole. While the NRA today has 4.3 million members, this is still equivalent to only about 2% of the voting age population and less than 7% of gun owners. This membership is also at a near peak, having grown considerably as the association has become increasingly successful in organizing and voicing the concerns of gun owners. The NRA became a potent political force with less than a million members.
It was able to do so because a few hundred thousand dedicated people, when organized and sharing information so as to concentrate their resources at key moments and pressure points, wield much more influence than when they are scattered and uninformed. What the opponents of immigration corruption need is increased formal organization. We need an NRA for immigration issues.
Imagine how different the debate would be if an “NIA” representative could walk into a congressman’s office and say: We have 1,000,000 members that believe very deeply that amnesty is morally wrong and counter-productive. There are over 2500 members in your district alone and they run the gamut from Republicans to Independents to Democrats. Every election, they receive a report card on your voting record as well as special mailings and alerts regarding important bills. We have tens of millions of dollars in our political action committee and we are prepared to spend most of it in a few dozen critical races if we have to. Can we please have a moment of your time to discuss your position on this issue?
One million members would represent less than seven tenths of 1% of the voting age population that is opposed to illegal immigration. It’s just a matter of getting them together.
There are numerous organizations that have grown up around the illegal immigration issue. The last two years have been a period of rapid growth for many of them as the problem has become increasingly serious. No one group is the equivalent of the NRA politically and organizationally, but together they are a good start to organizing those voters that wish to keep America American. Several of the more prominent ones are listed below.
If you care about the damage done to our country by corrupt immigration and labor practices, you need to connect with a group, get on their mailing list, and donate. And nothing says you can’t join more than one. Until enough people actually act on their frustration, the political math will remain skewed.
Potential Rallying Points:
Team America PAC: A political action committee founded by Rep. Tom Tancredo, Team America has the notable advantage of being run by a trustworthy congressional insider. The committee collects donations from individuals and funnels them toward candidates that support immigration enforcement and border security.
Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR): FAIR is a national grassroots organization that “seeks to improve border security, to stop illegal immigration, and to promote immigration levels consistent with the national interest—more traditional rates of about 300,000 a year.” FAIR frequently testifies before Congress and issues the best email alerts on pending legislation that I know.
Numbers USA: A public policy institute focused on the economic, environmental, and quality of life issues surrounding unlimited immigration.
The Center for Immigration Studies: The “nation’s only think tank devoted exclusively to research and policy analysis of the economic, social, demographic, fiscal, and other impacts of immigration on the United States.” A fantastic source of information and research.