Conservative activist Richard Viguerie says divisions over immigration could spark a “civil war” within the Republican Party, leading frustrated conservatives to abandon the party if the 2016 Presidential nominee is too liberal on this crucial issue.
Viguerie began the exclusive interview with Breitbart News by citing one of his main concerns — and pet peeves — regarding immigration. The “root cause of the problem,” he says, is the desperate situations immigrants face in the countries they are leaving.
“Has anyone looked beyond our border?” he asked. “At some point you have to do that, but no one seems to be talking about it…no one is looking at the root causes.” As long as people continue to be oppressed and unable to support their families in these “corrupt, socialist countries,” noted Viguerie, America will continue to face an illegal immigration problem.
For people to leave their home country, leave behind family members and friends, and face the incredibly dangerous journey, or send off their children alone as happened leading to the border surge last summer, is something no one would do except “out of desperation,” said Viguerie. “It doesn’t matter how high you build the fence…we’re going to have this problem.”
Viguerie also said that the current immigration debates focused too much on “amnesty,” at least within the conservative movement. “To me, the most important ‘A’ word is not amnesty; the most important ‘A’ word is assimilation,” he said, because immigrants have not been assimilating into American culture the way previous generations did.
People talk about America as the great “melting pot,” explained Viguerie, telling stories with pride about how their parents or grandparents came to this country. Indeed, this type of narrative is a common element for presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and potential candidate Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA), all of whom tell stories about what the opportunities available in America meant for their families when their parents immigrated here.
The difference now, said Viguerie, is that past generations assimilated and were anxious and eager to do so. This meant that more immigrants did not pose as great a risk of changing American culture, because they were becoming a part of it, not remaining opposed to it. Recent immigrants, on the other hand, have shown a “new resistance…they’re not assimilating, that’s the real issue.”
“They don’t want to become Americans, they don’t learn our history and culture, our language,” said Viguerie. “This is the roots of opposition.” Viguerie expressed concern that “we’re going to lose our country,” if new immigrants elect leaders who reflect this opposition and disconnect from American culture, who have “radically different views” than most Americans.
America is facing a “civil war about to go nuclear” regarding immigration in the 2016 elections, warned Viguerie. The presence of Cruz and Jindal in the race will generally move the Republican field to the right on immigration, because of their positions on the issue and the support from conservative activists for their views.
Viguerie predicted that the entire Republican field would move to the right on immigration, even Senate, Congressional, and gubernatorial candidates. The only exceptions he expected were former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) and Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), who are the most liberal among potential GOP presidential candidates on the issue.
The reason this is happening now, explained Viguerie, is that President Barack Obama’s extreme liberalism on the issue, from the administration’s inaction regarding the surge of border crossings last summer to the executive orders granting amnesty, has amplified conservatives’ frustration on the issue. “As Obama moves left, the Republican party will move right,” said Viguerie.
Another contributing factor as to why this is happening in the 2016 election cycle when it didn’t in 2012 or 2008, according to Viguerie, is that we “haven’t had a top tier constitutional conservative candidate like Cruz before…and Jindal is close behind him.” Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) has also “acknowledged he’s moved to the right on this.” As Breitbart News reported, Walker drew fire from liberals when he announced his proposals for reforms to the legal immigration system that would protect American workers.
“It’s almost inconceivable” for the grassroots to accept Bush or Christie, because of their positions on immigration, said Viguerie. “The grassroots are saying, ‘stop this madness,’ and wanting someone who will articulate this.”
If Bush or Christie win the Republican nomination, “it would probably bring into the open this whole civil war,” he continued, and “would probably split the GOP.”
These divisions have been “simmering for awhile,” said Viguerie, pointing to other establishment versus grassroots battles like contested primary elections and the re-election of John Boehner (R-OH) as Speaker of the House.
“As Abraham Lincoln said, a house divided against itself cannot stand,” concluded Viguerie. “There’s no issue that illustrates this like immigration.”
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker.