When senators on both sides of the aisle announced the outline of a comprehensive, sweeping immigration deal on Monday, anti-immigration groups immediately slammed the deal as amnesty for 11 million immigrants.
Numbers USA, a grassroots lobbyist, issued an “Amnesty Alert” and appealed to its members to lobby their elected officials. The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) slammed Sen. Rubio, one of the eight senators who crafted and will endorse the deal, for his “amnesty blueprint.”
“The only force strong enough to slow down the amnesty juggernaut is the voice of the American people,” Numbers USA wrote in an email plea to its members. “For those of you who were part of our team in 2007, it’s deja vu all over again. You know the drill. For the hundreds of thousands of you who have joined us since the defeat of the 2007 amnesty, you are needed today more than ever. Together, we can stop this.”
In 2007, George W. Bush’s immigration plans were scuttled, in large part, by Numbers USA’s persistent lobbying. The group’s members flooded congressional fax machines and phones with letters and calls. The New York Times credited the group with halting the bill. “And we only had 350,000 members then,” Beck told msnbc late last year, when we looked into the group’s plans to scuttle new immigration plans. “The fax machines would run out of paper,” one Republican House staffer recalled of that effort.
FAIR and Numbers USA, along with the research group Center for Immigration Studies, make up the power immigration-reduction lobby. The Southern Poverty Law Center dubbed them “the three faces of intolerance” in the “nativist lobby” and all were founded or initially funded by John Tanton, one of history’s most influential nativists.
The groups have held a choke-hold on many conservatives for years, according to Democratic House staffers, where Numbers’ support is the strongest. But the 2012 election’s huge Latino turnout has pushed the issue to the front burner and many are questioning the GOP’s ability to win in future elections without pulling in Latino support. “There is more political risk in opposing immigration reform than in supporting it,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) remarked at the press conference announcing the deal.
But as Republicans move closer toward immigration reform and compromise, anti-immigration groups are being pushed to the edges of the debate, refusing compromise. Indeed, many of Numbers USA’s demands are met by this planned bill–more secure borders, visa tracking, and an employment verification system are required before any immigrants are put on a path to citizenship–but the group still slams the deal and calls for further immigration reductions.
Tell your Three Members of Congress how ridiculous it is that Members of Congress are rushing on immigration reform just to stay ahead of Pres. Obama’s announcement that’s expected on Tuesday, Jan. 29. Also tell your Members that an amnesty is premature before E-Verify is mandated, an entry-exit system to track non-immigrant visa holders is complete, and chain migration and the visa lottery have been eliminated.
At the press conference, Sen. John McCain was quick to maintain that the new approach would not be a broad amnesty.
“If the Senate were serious about reforming our failed immigration system, the first step of their plan would be immediate, mandatory use of E-Verify—the workplace enforcement measure that ensures jobs are only given to U.S. citizens and those who are here legally,” said Rosemary Jenks, Numbers USA’s director of government affairs told The Hill. “Instead, the Senate Gang’s proposal is ‘Amnesty 2.0’—meaningless enforcement measures, mass amnesty, and increases in legal immigration, with taxpayers left to foot the bill.”
The Senators’ group has indeed endorsed the verification system and fines to ensure its enforcement, but if 2007 is any indication, Numbers USA members are feverishly filling inboxes as we speak.