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Exposed in August: The Empty Space That Is the Opposition to Immigration Reform

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File:Harrisburg, PA (5).jpg

This is what an empty public space in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania looks like.

Yes, it’s taken from Google Images, because we weren’t there.  Neither was anybody else this past Monday night, because the Tea Party Patriots, in conjunction with NumbersUSA and other anti-immigrant groups, completely failed to hold a rally they’d been planning there.

Just a few weeks ago, Tea Party Patriots (TPP) co-founder was quoted in this Breitbart piece announcing anti-immigrant town halls being planned in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Ohio; Dallas, Texas; and South Carolina this August.  Now those events have disappeared from their website.

Similarly, the Black American Leadership Alliance is scheduled to hold a series of anti-immigrant rallies in a few different states on September 7.  Up until recently, eight events were scheduled to be held in as many states.  But overnight, half of the events were cancelled, and now only four are still in the works.  Paul Arnold, one of the group’s organizers, even complained in a Facebook post (that he later deleted) that it was just too hard to find enough interest, and organizers.

When the Atlantic’s Molly Ball tried to figure out what happened to these events, Roy Beck of NumbersUSA—amazingly—told her that his group “did not try to organize anything massive” against immigration for August recess, though he had previously told her just the opposite.  He also claimed that the reason why nobody attended a widely-mocked Steve King rally this month in Richmond was because it was set in an African-American party of the city*.

Opponents of immigration reform have in recent days been claiming that there is no impetus for Congress to move forward with immigration reform, because supporters have not demonstrated that they want it badly enough this August.  Excuse me?  By the time recess is over, advocates of reform will have held more than 500 events in dozens of different states.  You can view some of the pictures herehereherehereherehere, and here.  How many events has the opposition held?

As an article in The Week pointed out last Friday, immigration reform advocates aren’t the only ones with something to prove this summer.  We once estimated that there is a sizable contingent of “vote no, pray yes” who want immigration reform to pass but are not sure they can take the heat if they vote in favor.  If Tea Party conservatives can’t even mobilize against immigration reform this summer, how are they going to mobilize state-by-state efforts to primary sitting Congressmembers out of office?

The iconic picture of the immigration reform opponents’ efforts this summer is Steve King, alone in a gazebo speaking to a mostly-empty public park.  And that’s the guy John Boehner is afraid of?


* From Molly Ball’s piece: As for the poorly attended Richmond rally, Beck acknowledged it was disappointing, but blamed the lack of turnout on a bad location choice. “We picked a spot that, it turns out, has the highest homicide rate in the city, and apparently a lot of people were afraid to come,” he said. Beck seemed to associate this danger with the African-American population: “We wanted to be there at a place where we could talk about the huge population of descendants of slavery who have never yet been part of the American Dream,” he said. “But sometimes passion and principles get in the way of practicality.”