On Friday, two prominent Republican backers of the Senate immigration bill hosted a conference call with reporters to reveal the “history” behind some organizations opposing the legislation. According to the speakers, a significant amount of the opposition to immigration reform is being led by liberals, environmentalists and pro-abortion and eugenics activists worried about population growth.
“[T]he primary leaders and funders of the anti-immigration movement were drawn to it because they were also active organizers and supporters of, and contributors to, the population-control movement in the United States,” Mario Lopez, a speaker on the call, recently wrote. Lopez is President of the Hispanic Leadership Fund. Lopez was joined on the call by Josh Culling, with Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform.
This ad hominem argument is both inane and irrelevant. People come into issues from all kinds of vantage points. I have no doubt that there active immigration reform opponents who are liberals or have overblown worries about population growth. Those views, however, don’t discredit what they may say on a different issue. Nor do those views discredit what people without those views believe on an issue.
Friday’s call was a leftist tactic to discount what millions of Americans feel about an issue because some other people hold views with which they would disagree. It was reminiscent of the media’s attempt to smear the entire Tea Party movement because a handful of people said or did something stupid.
Even if one were to cede the premise that an entire infrastructure to oppose immigration reform were built by population control activists, the fact is immaterial to the concerns many have about the legislation before the Senate. Even if you support expansive legal immigration, it is a bad bill. Its fatal flaw is that it doesn’t secure the border or increase enforcement in any meaningful way. One doesn’t have to be a population control zealot to see the fundamental problem with that approach.
Surely, the speakers would hopefully acknowledge, there are many opposed to the Senate bill who don’t believe in population control. I would wager the overwhelming majority of Americans who have concerns about the bill are not advocates of abortion or eugenics to control the population. So, why are the views of a decided minority relevant to an issue with national implications?
The richest irony of the call was that the speakers are allies of groups like SEIU and La Raza in supporting the specific Senate proposal. One could just as easily have a convened a press call to discuss the “history” behind these groups and why conservatives should be cautious about working with them. The speakers on the call, for example, acknowledged doing at least some work with the National Immigration Forum, which has received considerable funding from George Soros’ Open Society Institute. Is that the proper alliance for a conservative?
No one should schedule such a call, however. Issues should be decided on merits, not ad hominem aspersions about someone else’s motives. The call was an attempt to smear all opposition to the Senate bill as arising out of the questionable beliefs of a few people. It was an attempt to quash, rather than foster, debate on the underlying merits of the proposal.
The call also perpetuated a dangerously false choice. Conservatives should either accept legislation largely written by Sen. Chuck Schumer or be labeled as against reform. That our allies are forcing this choice is unconscionable.