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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Republicans Echo Immigration Restrictionists

Tom Barry The draft Republican Party platform is a restictionist dream come true. Rather than following the less severe lead of its presidential nominee, the party platform committee took its ideological lead from the party’s social conservatives and nationalist right. Four years ago, immigration was one of the shortest sections of the platform. In a sign of the new-found strength of the restrictionists, the immigration section is one of the longest sections of the 2008 platform. The 2004 platform called for immigration reform to make immigration “legal, safe, orderly and humane.” Mirroring the Democrats, the party called for an expanded guestworker program and a path for illegal immigrants "to come out of the shadows'' and apply for citizenship. Reflecting the post-9/11 positioning of immigration enforcement within the Department of Homeland Security, the party platform situates immigration policy within the national security plank of its strident 2008 platform. Echoing the law-and-enforcement rhetoric of the immigration restrictionists, the platform also places the “rule-of-law” position against illegal immigrations front and center. “In an age of terrorism, drug cartels, and criminal gangs, allowing millions of unidentified persons to enter and remain in this country poses grave risks to the sovereignty of the United States and the security of its people,” states the platform. As it makes clear further on, the Republican Party is not only against having immigrants enter the country without authorization, it is against them “remain[ing]” here. Adopting the language of the restrictionists, the platform committee declared: “We oppose amnesty. The rule of law suffers if government policies encourage or reward illegal immigration.”
In another nod to the restrictionists and to the current crackdown, the party states: “Experience shows that enforcement of existing laws is effective in reducing and reversing illegal immigration.” And the party wants all to join in: “It means requiring cooperation among federal, state and local law enforcement and real consequences, including the denial of federal funds, for self-described sanctuary cities, which stand in open defiance of the federal and state statutes that expressly prohibit such sanctuary policies, and which endanger the lives of U.S. citizens.” Among the policies of sanctuary cities condemned by the party are “in-state tuition for illegal immigrants” and “other public benefits.” It does not explain how these policies threaten the lives of U.S. citizens. The party (as do the Democrats) endorses the EVerify employee verification system, stating that “our commitment to the rule of law means smarter enforcement at the workplace, against illegal workers and lawbreaking employers alike, along with those who practice identity theft and traffic in fraudulent documents.” Multiethic is okay, but not multicultural. “In our multiethnic nation, everyone — immigrants and native-born alike — must embrace our core values of liberty, equality, meritocracy, and respect for human dignity and the rights of women,” declares the party. Embracing the “official English” position of language restrictionist groups linked to the immigration restrictionists, the party says that English should be “the official language in our nation.” It calls English “a unifying cultural force” and an “important part of cultural integration.”
Unlike the party’s 2000 and 2004 platforms, which made multiple mentions ( more than 250 times in 2004, and more than 40 times in 2000) of the party’s standard bearer George W. Bush, there is only one mention (in the preamble) of John McCain. The legislative advocacy arm of the Family Research Council praised the platform as the most "conservative, pro-life and pro-family platform in Republican party history." Donald Devine of the American Conservative Union said, "It's certainly a vast improvement over the 2004 document.'' Reflecting on the history of the party’s nominee accepting the party’s platform, Phyllis Schafly of the right-wing Eagle Forum, said, “When we didn't do what Bob Dole wanted he just went out and said he wasn't going to pay attention to it anyway. And we know what happened to Bob Dole.'' Tom Barry directs the TransBorder Project of the Americas Policy Program and the Center for International Policy.

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