It was a billed as an anti-immigrant event, and turned out to be anything but.
Yesterday in Richmond, Virginia, the Black American Leadership Alliance–a front group for FAIR and the rest of the Tanton network–held the first in a series of events with their anti-immigrant We Are America tour, an endeavor that originally featured nine events across the country but due to lack of interest has been knocked down to three.
The rally yesterday was held outside House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s district office and was organized specifically to oppose immigration reform. As the event’s Facebook page reads, “The Black American Leadership Alliance announces, the “We Are America Tour” … encouraging 5 prominent House members in their localities, to do their part in stopping the Senate’s massive push for amnesty.”
Only 60 people showed up at the rally in Richmond yesterday, roughly the same number of people who attended Steve King’s failed event in the same area last month. And even more significantly, almost none of the attendees or speakers even referenced immigration reform or opposition to it. Speakers railed about defunding Obamacare, impeaching the President, and staying out of Syria. If they mentioned immigration at all, it was in 3-second long comments–“and no amnesty!” While nearly every attendee was holding a “defund Obamacare” placard, only four could be seen carrying any signs that even referenced immigration.
A similar story unfurled at a town hall meeting hosted by the Tea Party following the rally. At the town hall, speakers and audience members (watch video here) did manage to insist that immigrants are different from “illegal aliens,” claim that the immigration system is not actually broken at all, and argue that no provision for birthright citizenship (or “anchor babies”) exists in the Constitution.
Larry Nordvig, the executive director of the Richmond Tea Party, even managed to get in some sarcastic digs about the DREAM Act and—God forbid–broader immigration reform. Nordvig was criticizing Cantor for being too soft on immigration and palling around with Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) when audience members started worrying that immigration reform might also legalize the trash man and the gardener:
NORDVIG: Menendez is pro-amnesty, folks, starting with—the children, to get the camel’s nose under the tent.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Will the parents be allowed to stay?
NORVIG (sarcastically): Well, you know, it’s the compassionate thing to do, once you let the children stay, and then Grandma, of course, fits with the parents…
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Extended family, gardener…
NORDVIG: And the trash man, he speaks a little bit, so…
But even still, the grand total of time that immigration reform was discussed at the town hall–and during the entire day–amounted less than five minutes.
We just spent 5 hours in Richmond to listen to the Tea Party talk abt immigration for total of 5 min
— americasvoice (@americasvoice) September 5, 2013
The Tea Party audience spent far more time being furious at Eric Cantor for not being present at the events and listening to his constituents–even though yesterday marked the start of Rosh Hashanah and Cantor (who is Jewish) was at home observing the holiday with his family.
Nice try, BALA. But if you’re going to hold an event to demonstrate that people are opposed to immigration reform, attendees should actually be there, you know, opposing immigration reform.
Two more rallies in the “We Are America” tour are scheduled for this Saturday, September 7, in Ohio and Arizona. A fourth rally had been planned in Houston, Texas on that day, but has since disappeared from the event Facebook page, presumably due to lack of interest.