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Pines for the Days When Whites Were the Main Beneficiaries of U.S. Immigration Policy
At the presidential debate held Monday, Republican contender Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) said, “The immigration system in the United States worked very, very well up until the mid-1960s when liberal members of Congress changed the immigration laws. What works is to have people come into the United States with a little bit of money in their pocket, legally, with sponsors so that if anything happens to them they don’t fall back on the taxpayers to take care of them.”
According to Frank Sharry of America’s Voice, “Bachmann’s comments may sound innocuous to some, but to those schooled in immigration history she’s actually blowing a shrill dog whistle. She’s basically saying, ‘let’s go back to an immigration policy that favors white people and excludes people of color from around the world.’”
The 1965 immigration law, shepherded through Congress by the late Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), overturned the ethnic origins restrictions that had been in place since the 1920s, and led to a fairer, non-racialized American immigration system based on family ties and work skills. This led not only to a more diverse stream of immigrants, but to a group that has been every bit as successful as the wave that came to America through Ellis Island at the turn of the 20th century.
Fortunately, a number of commentators quickly grasped the true meaning of Bachmann’s comments.
As America’s Voice continues to note, the Republican Party cannot expect to reach the required 40% threshold of Latino voter support if its candidates continue to run hard to the enforcement-only right during the primary season. In addition to Latino voters, many Asian-Americans also see through comments like Bachmann’s and know they are code for an immigration policy designed to keep them out. For a Republican Party needing to show to Latino and Asian voters that it has learned its lessons from past failures of the immigration wedge strategy, Bachmann’s comments are a reminder that they have yet to do so.
Said Sharry, “Will anyone in the Republican Party or conservative movement denounce Bachmann’s comments? So far, the silence is deafening.”
America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.