While advocates of immigration reform have been bringing the heat this August, rallying in key districts all over the country for immigration reform and citizenship, apparently our opponents on the other side are having trouble turning out enough of an opposition to make their case. We’ve been seeing low turnout at anti-immigrant events all year, most recently at Steve King’s rally in Richmond last Monday, now famous for not having anyone show up. Apparently, that fail was part of a larger trend this summer, one that news outlets are starting to pick up on.
As an unnamed Democratic aide told ABC News-Univision today, opponents of immigration reform just haven’t been showing up this summer to make their voices heard, unlike the 2009 August town halls were angry Tea Partiers were all over the news shouting down Obamacare:
There have been very few events that are strongly anti-immigrant, where people are coming out to yell at their member to oppose any kind of immigration reform. The status quo on immigration reform is really hard to defend.
It kind of confirms what we’ve known about anti-immigration movement: It’s loud but not very strong. Republican base is much more animated by other issues, particularly anything related to Obama, than they are anything about immigration reform.
Obamacare is playing a role again this summer. To the frustration of some immigration reform opponents, Tea Partiers have once again been spending this summer crusading against health care, which in their opinion frees up space for immigration reform to breathe. As the Washington Examiner wrote about such groups yesterday:
Conservative activist groups are orchestrating a coordinated campaign to pressure Republican Members of Congress on a key issue for them at town hall events this summer. But all of that effort is going to defund Obamacare, while the Senate passed immigration bill is being completely ignored.
The same is true of FreedomWorks, which has taken the “extraordinary” step of including the defunding of Obamacare on their online scorecard.
The Senate Conservatives Fund, which fought amnesty in the Senate, is also asking its members to support efforts to “Defund Obamacare” as well as to “Defund the I.R.S.,” but amnesty is not listed as a priority for them in August either.
Heritage Action Fund, which has fought amnesty in both the House and Senate, is not messaging on amnesty in August either. Instead, they are also promoting a campaign to defund Obamcare, including nine town halls across the country, beginning August 19.
The trouble? The failure of anti-immigrant groups to get their act together doesn’t presage well for their argument that angry Tea Partiers are going to primary House Republicans who do vote for immigration reform. The Week has more:
Because the anti-immigration squad is so poorly funded and lacking in leadership, it is vulnerable to being marginalized by louder fringe voices and better organized mainstream voices.
The louder the fringe voices become, the stronger the case mainstream Republicans can make to their leaders to accept immigration reform, on the grounds that the party can’t survive if it remains associated with birthers and bigots. At the same time, since the Tea Party can’t get the conservative grassroots riled up now, they won’t have much of a case to make to incumbent congressmen that they will face fierce primary challenges next year if they agree to a compromise with Democrats.
Score August as a big win for immigration reform.
And, it’s only August 20th. We’re not done yet.