It was barely a year ago when anti-immigrant carnival barkers like Mark Krikorian complained they were shut out of the annual CPAC event after organizers decided they needed to revamp their damaged image following Mitt Romney’s 2012 disastrous showing among Latino voters.
Well, that makeover didn’t last too long.
With President Obama making good on his promise to act on immigration, and the new Republican Congress having spent weeks infighting over DHS funding bills simply because those bills won’t do anything to deport millions of DAPA/DACA-eligible families, a flood of ugly immigrant rhetoric returned to the conference, and with a vengeance.
ThinkProgress’ Alice Ollstein noted CPAC’s immigration panel — “Immigration: Can Conservatives Reach A Consensus?” — boasted two pro-immigration Latino conservatives pleading with “the new Republican majority in Congress to introduce and pass an immigration reform bill.” But the third panelist, hardliner Rep. Jeff Duncan, immediately shut down their cries, asking “Why should we pass something else out of Congress without any understanding that the President is going to enforce it?”
Ollstein also noted Duncan kept repeating the pejorative “illegals” as he sat between the two “stony-faced Latino speakers.” Awkward. And at one point, a white audience member interrupted one of the Latino speakers and screamed, “You must have gone to one of those Jesuit colleges!” (Note to pro-immigrant Pope Francis: You may not get the warmest welcome at CPAC 2016).
The event was already on shaky ground after civil rights groups noted that one of the conference’s sponsors — ProEnglish — is led by noted white nationalist Bob Vandervoot. The groups asked leading 2016 GOP candidates to distance themselves from the event and the sponsor, but neither candidates nor CPAC organizers seemed to bat an eyelash at the revelation.
Reality stars Donald Trump and Sarah Palin made appearances as well (though unclear if for entertainment value). The Donald once again called for building a massive Trump-branded wall at the border (just don’t ask his two immigrant ex-wives what they might think about that), while Palin took her time to patriotically accuse immigrants of taking handouts at the expense of military veterans.
Nevermind the fact that one of the first warriors to die in Iraq was once an undocumented immigrant, and that over 114,000 foreign-born individuals have served their country in the military. And nevermind the fact that Palin herself once boasted about crossing the Canadian border to access health care. Those darn moochers!
And in yet another typical move from Marco Rubio, the GOP’s former savior threw his own bipartisan immigration bill under the bus, complaining to the conservative event-goers that it just “wasn’t very popular” (maybe to Steve King? Rubio’s bill passed 68-32 in the Senate and could have passed in the House, had Republican leaders simply allowed it to the floor for a vote).
Check out the rest of our CPAC Storify for more tweets below.