According to a Washington Post article dated February 13, (Effort to change immigration law sparks internal battle within GOP) the division in the Republican party over immigration reform is due at least in part to the lobbying efforts of three familiar and highly influential anti-immigrant groups, Numbers USA, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and the Federation for Immigration Reform (FAIR) . As ID readers know, these groups all share a well-publicized agenda of reducing legal immigration, in addition to taking a hard line on illegal immigration though the draconian policy of "attrition", a/k/a "self-deportation".
The WP article states:
"Well funded and politically savvy, the groups produce research papers, testify at congressional hearings and appear frequently in the media to push for reducing immigration. Numbers USA reports that its members have inundated the office of Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla) with 100,000 faxes this year warning him that his central role in pursuing changes in immigration laws could damage his future political prospects."
The same article also reports that groups such as Numbers USA have close ties with congressional opponents of more liberal immigration laws such as Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) and Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)
Are these groups the elephants in the room which may hold up, water down, or even kill immigration reform, as happened in 2007? Are they the equivalent of the NRA in the debate over gun control? There may be good reason to believe so.
However, the WP also reports that some moderates who favor a grand compromise on immigration reform are attacking these groups from the right on a different issue, abortion, in order to try to lessen their hold over the conservative wing of the Republican party. For example, Kevin Appleby, director of immigration policy for the US conference of Catholic Bishops, told the WP that these groups' "underlying goals are inconsistent with a pro-life agenda".
According to the same article, the three organizations are also under attack from the right for trying to limit population growth by using the argument that, allegedly, "increased migration threatens the environment". It would be ironic indeed if a right wing wing anti-abortion, anti-environmental protection agenda results in making it easier to pass immigration reform by discrediting, or at least reducing the influence of these hard line anti-immigrant organizations.
However, it is even more important for immigration advocates to expose these groups and take them head on, just as gun control advocates have finally been doing with the NRA. In order to pass real immigration reform, it is time to kick the anti-immigration elephants out of the room.
Roger Algase is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been practicing business immigration law in New York City for more than 20 years.