Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Anti-Immigrant Wedge

America - White People Only

Republican politicians are rushing to embrace immigration and anti-immigrant positions as key wedge issue in the 2006 election and, they hope, beyond.

In San Diego County, State Senator Bill Morrow held an immigrant bashing rally on the same day he announced that he would be running to fill Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham's seat in 2006. Morrow's rally included speeches by Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo and Orange County's Minuteman Project founder, Jim Gilchrist.

What is remarkable about Morrow's rally and the anti-immigrant movement in general is the nature of the participants in these events. While many event involving Gilchrist tend to attract skin-heads and neo-nazis, the "public forum" held in Carlsbad last week attracted a crowd that was decidedly middle and upper middle class.

The group with whom the anti-immigrant message seems to resonate the most is white, middle age and relatively affluent. At the Carlsbad event the crowd arrived in big late model cars and SUVs (many foreign) and was well dress and groomed. Most undoubtable lived in homes that were valued well above the median North County home price of nearly $700,000. What exactly this group feels that immigrants, legal or illegal, are going to take from them is beyond me.

San Diego Union Tribune columnist, Ruben Navarrette, attended the Carlsbad event.

"Morrow's minions kept a tight rein on who was let into the event and who wasn't. They tried to identify those sympathetic to tighter immigration restrictions, and they made up excuses about how the "fire code" didn't allow them to let in more people.

Then the minions waved in other folks whose names, they said, were on the "VIP" list. When I asked how someone got to be a VIP, I was told that it was by volunteering with Morrow's office or otherwise being a supporter.

Not surprisingly, when Morrow asked the crowd of about 450 how many of them thought that illegal immigration was a crisis, all but four or five people quickly raised their hands."

Morrow's "forum" was a tool to energize his base and demonstrate his intention to use immigration as an issue to define himself as a candidate. Do politicians such as Bill Morrow care or even consider the human and social damage their issue pandering causes? Navarrette doesn't think so.

"...Morrow wants to go to Washington, and he seems to think that illegal immigration will get him there.

Selling influence is one thing. But in my book, it's what Morrow is doing – bashing immigrants for political gain – that's the real scandal."

Democrats beware. Bill Morrow is coming to your neighborhood with his message of fear and hate. If you not ready, he is going ride that message to Washington.