After having suffered major setbacks at the hands of restrictionists, immigration advocates are attempting to regroup and plot new strategies to advance liberal immigration reform in the next administration. America’s Voice and National Council of La Raza, as well as some unions, are attempting to discredit the restrictionist institutes by citing their connections with nativist and white supremacist groups and individuals, including John Tanton, considered the godfather of restrictionism.
Many immigration advocates call FAIR a “hate group,” following the lead of the Southern Poverty Law Center. As part of its “We Can Stop the Hate” campaign, National Council of La Raza is calling the directors of FAIR and NumbersUSA – Dan Stein and Roy Beck – “suspect spokespeople,” grouping them with the leaders of the Minuteman movement. While Senator Obama and other Democratic Party leaders variously promise that they will push comprehensive immigration reform within the first year or first term of the new administration, the prospects for a liberal immigration reform that would include legalization are not auspicious. With an economy in a tailspin, restrictionist attempts to link an immigration crackdown with a populist economic message have more traction. And even those who reject the anti-immigrant campaign are less likely to stand behind a pro-immigration agenda or protest immigration raids when their own economic future is in jeopardy. Meanwhile, the divisions within the pro-immigrant camp over such issues as border security, temporary worker programs, and the enforcement campaign of the Department of Homeland Security are still present. While the anti-immigration forces are united around “attrition through enforcement” and the government’s ambitious “border security initiative,” immigration advocates are still split, dispirited, and worn down by the unrelenting crackdown.
Even the likely change of political parties in the White House will not likely substantially change the political equation, as more Democrats in Congress have adopted the “rule of law” and “border security” policy frameworks of the restrictionists.