Immigration restrictionists left the mid-2007 immigration showdown in triumphant. But in the wake of their victory in blocking immigration reform, the leading restrictionist voices haven’t been triumphalist. Instead of sitting back, they have kept hammering. Strengthened by a large jump in memberships and new media attention, they kept pushing their anti-immigration agenda. When Democrats attempted to slip through a small immigration reform bill called the Dream Act, they again mobilized their legions of anti-immigration stalwarts around the country. And when Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) attempted to respond to agribusiness pressure for an agricultural guestworker program in late 2007, the restrictiontist mobilized again, persuading the bill sponsors to drop the proposed Ag Jobs bill. Already the restrictionists are anticipating that some in Congress may lose its enthusiasm for “attrition through enforcement” as its emotional and financial toll adds up.
And they are set to oppose any new initiative by the new administration to legalize unauthorized immigrations. “The stepped-up enforcement of the past year may peel off some enforcement-first voters and congressmen who are willing to be persuaded that the enforcement is now happening, and is adequate, to move ahead with the amnesty,” observed Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which promotes enforcement-first policies. The Bush White House, he added, “sees this enforcement push as building credibility for the next administration to have an amnesty.” Restrictionists are determined to defend their gains against any attempt to reintroduce legalization legislation or to rein in the ongoing crackdown on immigrants. At the same time, the restrictionists are reaching out to new constituencies and expanding their policy agenda to include a new emphasis on slashing legal immigration. Krikoiran’s new book, The Case Against Immigration – Both Legal and Illegal, is a timely reminder that the restrictionists have a grand agenda that extends far beyond the immigrant crackdown. While the book proposes the same type of immigration reform supported by the three DC-based institutes, it does make a startling new case against immigrants. In a recent interview with National Review online, CIS’ Krikorian said, “It’s a mistake to think of legal and illegal immigration as distinct phenomena. They come from the same places through the same means, often in the same families and even the same people (shifting back and forth between being legal and illegal), and have the same impact on society.” Krikorian does, however, say the illegal immigrants, unlike legal immigrants, “remain morally culpable for their misdeeds.”