While most people were focused on what was happening inside the Capitol yesterday, here’s a quick recap of what was happening outside, in case you missed it.
First, the anti-immigrant, anti-Obama extremist group Operation American Freedom (OAF) came to Washington, DC, where some 20 members (out of 221 who had RSVP’d on the Facebook page) protested in front of the White House and were not shy about their feelings toward the first African-American president of the United States. The group spent a lot of time attacking immigrants and denouncing “aliens” for their perceived offenses to American life — but most of their energy was specifically focused against the President. Event-goers demanded to “evict the negro from the White House” and demanded that officials arrest or hang President Obama (see here to see a full roundup of tweets and pictures from yesterday’s event).
At one point, the Secret Service/Park Police asked the group to move onto the sidewalk for an extended amount of time to make way for a motorcade — and the protesters promptly turned on the police, blasting them for “unconstitutional unlawful governance;” demanding to know whether Obama had handed down the orders; and calling on the police to “grow a pair of cojones,” ignore orders, and allow the protesters to remain where they had been before.
Not much is known about OAF, but it appears that they are descendent of Operation American Spring, the effort from earlier this year to bring millions of “patriots” to Washington, DC to expel top elected officials (from President Obama to Speaker Boehner) out of the nation’s capital. Operation American Spring, of course, was a massive failure, but OAF is still reportedly about “the removal of this entire administration from office.” Check out this arrest warning OAF issued to government officials in Washington last month, demanding that all those in a position of power stand with them or against them.
Following the OAF rally, yesterday’s gathering of sheriffs against the Obama policy turned out to be yet another bust for the anti-immigrant crowd. Last month, eager conservative media reported about an upcoming gathering of sheriffs who were coming to Washington, DC on December 10th (yesterday) to speak out against President Obama’s executive action and call for more border security. “Sheriffs Plan Massive Gathering in Washington to Oppose Executive Amnesty,” read the headline at National Review, noting that event organizers were trying to recruit at least 200 sheriffs and that they believed “the American people will rally around the sheriff’s stand.”
Fast forward to December 10th, and we see yet another example of immigration reform opponents failing to turn out mass support for their extremism. Only 50 sheriffs came to town yesterday. They held a closed-door press conference, private except for some press, with Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and David Vitter (R-LA). There was no mass rally; a handful of supporters organized by NumbersUSA and others to welcome the sheriffs ended up waiting outside for over an hour in the wind and cold before realizing that the sheriffs were already inside the Russell Senate building (see background on some of the anti-immigrant sheriffs at yesterday’s press conference here).
A press call yesterday organized by the National Immigration Forum in fact featured a number of law enforcement leaders speaking about the benefits of executive action in their communities (you can find out more about the Bibles, Badges, and Business effort here). And this year saw a veritable chain reaction of local and state law enforcement agencies announce their refusal to automatically honor ICE holds for detained immigrants.
Yesterday’s anti-immigrant “rallies” followed another poor display of support from the Reps. Steve King (R-IA)/Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) crowd last week. When it comes to the dwindling anti-immigrant movement, their bark is much worse than their bite.