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. Although not thrilled with the prospect of an Obama presidency, the restrictionists don't necessarily fear it. Some, including NumbersUSA and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), already are trying to leverage Obama's promises to protect workers and create jobs.
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 comprehensive immigration reform to pay more attention to what the leading restrictionists are now saying.
During the campaign the anti-immigration groups despaired over the prospect of either McCain or Obama. But now the two leading restrictionist policy institutes, NumbersUSA and the Federation for American Immigration Reform, point encouragingly to Obama's strong positions in favor of employee verification and employer enforcement.
They have also been confident that the aggressive enforcement regime instituted by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff will persist into the next administration, especially given the way that many Democratic congressional representatives have supported increases in the department's immigration-enforcement and border-control budget.
However, it's the country's economic downspin that gives the restrictionists the most confidence that liberal immigration reform is dead for the foreseeable future.