Anti-Immigrant Event Targeting Cantor and Featuring Steve King Fizzles; Event in McCarthy’s District Promoted by Pro-Reform Movement Set for Tomorrow Will Sizzle
For all the talk of the vaunted anti-immigrant movement’s ability to mobilize opposition to comprehensive immigration reform, their big event in Richmond, VA yesterday turned out to be a big bust.
Embarrassed by two weeks of well-attended pro-reform events that have successfully pressed a growing number of House Republicans in purple districts to come out for immigration reform with a path to citizenship, the anti-immigrant crowd organized an “anti-amnesty” rally yesterday in Richmond, VA. Sponsored by and heavily promoted by leading anti-immigrant organizations and allies, such as Numbers USA, Tea Party Patriots and Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, as well as hyped by Breitbart News, turnout was, well, embarrassing. Check out these photos of the Richmond anti-immigrant “rally.” It appears that there were almost as many speakers as attendees. As for actual attendees, Breitbart’s man on the scene, Mathew Boyle, counted 30.
Boyle of Breitbart could not contain his displeasure, tweeting, “If grassroots wants to kill #Amnesty they have to show up. #teaparty they are not here in Richmond;” and “The mainstream media reporters who drove down to Richmond from DC have smirks on their faces. Only 30 people showed at anti-#Amnesty rally.”
Keep in mind, this event was organized by the likes of Roy Beck of Numbers USA, who recently told Molly Ball of The Atlantic that “No other August has been this critical.” Credited with bringing down immigration reform in 2007 with a barrage of grassroots anger, he confidently predicted to Ball that anti-immigrant voices throughout the nation would be the story of congressional recess. With recess well-underway, Beck now tells Bloomberg that “those who favor legalizing the undocumented have ‘a heavier lift of changing minds’ during the congressional recess, while anti-immigration groups like his must simply ‘hold the line.’” Talk about trying to move the goalposts after you fall behind.
And the lead speaker was none other than Steve King (R-IA). Fresh off his appearance on Meet the Press, where he was smacked down by GOP strategist Ana Navarro, and defiant despite days of being denounced by fellow Republicans, King came to Richmond to rail for some 30 minutes against immigration reform (that’s one minute per attendee). He even made another foray into cultural anthropology by claiming that immigrants come from violent cultures and therefore would, of course, bring more violence to America. He did not say that immigrants have violent brains the size of cantaloupes.
If interested parties want a contrast with the bleak turnout in Richmond for Beck and King, they should check out tomorrow’s event planned for the Bakersfield, CA district of House Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). As the Los Angeles Times and other outlets have previewed, pro-reform activists from over 100 cities throughout California will caravan to Bakersfield to hold a massive rally in front of McCarthy’s office with nearly 500 cars and floats present to represent millions of undocumented immigrants.
This comes on top of events in the past two weeks that have included big crowds, diverse roundtables and growing momentum for the pro-reform forces, which have brought pressure to bear on the likes of Aaron Schock (R-IL), David Valladao (R-CA), Daniel Webster (R-FL), Mike Coffman (R-CO), Corey Gardner (R-CO), Blake Farenthold (R-TX), Michael Grimm (R-NY), Peter King (R-NY), Joe Heck (R-NV), Dave Reichert (R-WA) and others (see here for the growing list of Republican House Members who have voiced their support for citizenship).
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
It’s becoming increasingly clear that, this time around, the anti-immigrant movement is loud but not large. In a head-to-head matchup of organized rallies, the pro-reform movement will have 40 times more buses headed to Bakersfield than there were attendees in Richmond. Which leads us to ask, why are Speaker Boehner and other Republican House leaders spooked by the likes of Steve King and Numbers USA? When are they going to finally conclude that the nativist wing of the GOP that has been nothing but trouble for a party in desperate need of adapting to a changing America?