The relentlessly harsh Republican
campaign against immigrants has always hidden a streak of racialist
extremism. Now after several high-water years, the Republican tide has
gone out, leaving exposed the nativism of fringe right-wingers clinging
to what they hope will be a wedge issue.
News item #1: As of Nov. 30, 13 states had enacted 19 employment laws
related to immigrants since Jan. 1, 2008, according to a December
report issued by the National Conference of State Legislatures. The
laws covered hiring unauthorized workers, employment verification,
unemployment benefits and so forth.
The states: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Maryland,
Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia
and, of course, Mississippi.
Forget Miami, Los Angeles and New York--America's newest immigrant capitals are the country's recent boom towns.
Top of the list: Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla., with a 122% increase
in its foreign-born population from 2000 to 2007, according to a
Brookings Institution analysis of U.S. Census Bureau information. Also
ranking high are the metro areas of Nashville, Tenn., (74% increase),
Indianapolis (71%), Orlando, Fla., (64%) and Raleigh, N.C. (62%).
Pennsylvania, Kanjorski, a 12-term congressman, squeaked out a win
against Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta, a Republican mayor who became
nationally prominent for his stand against illegal immigrants.
With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Kanjorski had 52 percent, and Barletta had 48 percent.
worked hard. We came up a little short in the end, but we ran a good
campaign, a clean campaign, a campaign we can be proud of," Barletta
said in his concession speech.
Barletta also lost to
Kanjorski in 2002. He told reporters that it was too early to say
whether he would mount a third challenge, but added that in a different
year, the outcome might have been different. He said a strong showing
for presidential winner Barack Obama contributed to Kanjorski's win.
pushed through a law in his community of 30,000 that sought to deny
business permits to companies that employ illegal immigrants and fine
landlords who rent to them. A federal judge struck down the ordinance
as unconstitutional but his efforts were emulated in other towns around
The next administration's preoccupation with economic crises will
likely prevent immigration advocates from capitalizing on steep losses
suffered by their foes in last week's election, delaying any attempt to
ease entry for people in the U.S. illegally.
Of the 13 House Republicans who lost their seats on Nov. 4, nine
were members of the Immigration Reform Caucus, which has opposed a path
to citizenship for the country's estimated 12 million illegal
immigrants. A 10th member, Virginia's Virgil Goode, is trailing in a
race still too close to call.
The anti-immigrant "movement" has been flailing recently. With donor fraud and embezzlement
fueling the splintering of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps, and
dysfunction and check-bouncing at their previous partner organization,
the Minutemen Project, anti-immigrant organizations are seeing dissent
and confusion rule their ranks.
LUDDEN: Nathan Newman(ph) is with the Progressive States Network which supports immigrant-friendly legislation. He points out that in 2006 a number of Congressional candidates who ran on a hard line anti-immigration platform lost. The same thing happened in the Republican presidential primaries. And Newman says states which have past immigration crackdowns have had mixed results. That may explain why for all the immigration bills considered by state legislators in recent years few have actually passed.
Mr. NEWMAN: There's been a message that this wasn't going to be the magic wedge issue that some political opportunists on the conservative side had hoped for. I think that meant that both the money and volunteer time to try to support new ballot initiatives just wasn't there in these states.