While pro-immigration groups are hailing the Obama victory and the Latino turnout as a victory for liberal immigration reform, immigration restrictionists are reshaping their messaging for the Obama era. Given how successfully the restrictionist institutes in Washington have tweaked their anti-immigration message in the Bush era to reflect new citizen concerns about national security and the "rule of law," it would behoove immigrant advocates and other supporters of liberal immigration policies to pay more attention to what the leading restrictionists are now saying.
Post-Election Reaction of the Center for Immigration Studies
Not as close to either grassroots restrictionism or Capitol Hill as his colleagues at FAIR and NumbersUSA, Mark Krikorian, director of the restrictionist think tank Center for Immigration Studies reacted bitterly to Obama’s election while pointing to the restrictionist victories in Arizona as cause for hope. “Even if The One's minions gut immigration enforcement, it's still alive at the state level,” wrote Krikorian in his blog, “Arizona voters rejected the mendacious attempt by the business community to gut the state's toughest-in-the-nation immigration law. But unlike his counterparts at the other DC restrictionist institutes, Krikorian acknowledged that the anti-immigration forces may have a messaging problem. Noting that there is too much “bile” in the restrictionist movement, CIS’s president, author of the The New Case Against Immigration Both Legal and Illegal, observed in a post-election analysis that “too much of even the legitimate, non-bilious concern of immigration is based on the idea that today’s immigrants are somehow inferior to your grandma from Sciliy or your grampa from Lithuania.” Moving forward toward legislation restricting immigration, Krikorian recommends that restrictionists adopt a new framing of the issue. Rather than demonizing immigrants, as many restrictionists do to build their movement, Krikorian advocates a more cerebral, conceptual approach to immigration policy reform: “This is why I think there's political utility (as well as substantive truth) to the central point of my book: Today's immigrants are very similar to those of the past, but we have changed, our society so profoundly different because of modernization that mass immigration of any kind is no longer appropriate. This removes the onus from the foreigners and also allows us to place illegal immigration into a larger context rather than just gripe about lawbreaking (as bad as that is).” “A pro-immigrant policy of low immigration” is what Krikorian recommends as the new framing for restrictionists. Recognizing that many Latinos support a liberal immigration policy that supports more immigration, the CIS president observes that his framing probably won’t “attract most immigrants, or most Hispanics, or most Hispanic immigrants, but it will attract some and cause others to be less intense in their support for the other side and, perhaps most importantly, reassure native-born voters that their concerns about immigration don’t make them bad people.”
Center for Immigration Studies
Immigration Reform Caucus
Immigration Reform Law Institute
Border Security and Enforcement First Caucus