After the historic events of 2006-2007, many people are asking what is the future for fair legalization after Congress failed to pass new legislation?
One of the greatest challenges is a political crisis of elected leadership. Anti-immigrant politicians, specifically, the House Immigration Reform Caucus (HIRC), with ties to white supremacist organizations and funding, have prevented any humane reform being passed. On the other hand, politicians who are sympathetic to the plight of immigrant families have demonstrated political cowardice in failing to challenge the xenophobia and racism of these extremists.
A report by Center for New Community exposes this extremist wing within Congress, characterizing their ideology as “ultra-nationalist”, similar to far-right European parties such as Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front in France.
The HIRC claims 110 members, 25% of the House of Representatives; 102 Republicans and 8 Democrats. Despite their claims to represent working class Americans, the majority received a 0% rating from labor unions on their legislative voting record.
The chair of the HIRC, Rep. Brian Bilbray, is a former lobbyist for Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR); an organization with both financial and organizational ties to hate groups. FAIR accepted over $1 million from The Pioneer Fund, which promotes the study of eugenics.
Caucus members receive funding from nativist sources such as the Minuteman. Financial contributors to the HIRC 2005-2006 election cycle include business interests that have a direct financial gain. Companies such as Lockheed and GE , contributors to HIRC, have received multimillion dollar contracts for increased militarization of the US/ Mexico border.
What must we do to overcome these right wing organizations and their ideas?
Build a broad progressive movement that holds elected officials accountable leading up to the 2008 elections (and beyond) to a broader platform of demands that include economic and social justice for undocumented immigrants, legal immigrants and US citizens.
Increase and expand our Get Out the Vote (GOTV) efforts and citizenship drives for Lawful Permanent Residents.
Educate & organize around workplace & civil rights; challenge unjust laws such anti-immigrant local and state ordinances.
Public forums about the true facts on immigration
More than ever, it will be necessary to expose racist politicians, like State Representative Grothman who opposed Martin Luther King Day as a State holiday, and recently introduced a bill to prevent local governments from passing laws favorable to undocumented immigrants such as local law enforcement policies separating police from immigration enforcement.
These politicians are hiding their voting records on education, civil rights, jobs, environment and health care behind anti-immigrant politics. Candidates must be accountable in an election year if they use hatred against immigrants as a campaign platform. And to win, immigration must be part of broader set of demands for social justice.