Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Pushing the Anti-Immigration Agenda Further Right

Republicans, like most Democrats, would prefer to keep immigration issues out of presidential politics. But restrictionist Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO)...

Republicans, like most Democrats, would prefer to keep immigration issues out of presidential politics. But restrictionist Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) has other plans. Having announced in January the creation of a presidential campaign exploratory committee, Tancredo hopes to make immigration policy a major campaign issue of the presidential race.

Tancredo, who founded the House Immigration Reform Caucus, says that immigration "is the issue that propels me." It’s a multifaceted issue, he notes: "It touches our educational system, our medical system, our national security, our culture." As an example, Tancredo points to the healthcare crisis, which is "exacerbated by the fact that we are providing health care to millions of people who came here illegally and access our health care system for free. You pay. They get it" (Sioux City Journal, February 4, 2007).

Other candidates see little to gain from the immigration issue. No matter what their position on the contentious issue, the leading candidates fear that raising the topic will lose them votes. If they support legalization or guestworker programs, they risk the wrath of social conservatives and many populist Democrats who adamantly oppose amnesty for undocumented residents. And these candidates also know that they risk alienating many voters, particularly Latinos, if they are regarded as pandering to the immigration restrictionists who demand border walls and stricter immigration law enforcement.

In contrast, Tancredo has nothing to lose and everything to gain from a presidential bid. Although the firebrand politician from an affluent Denver suburb hasn’t managed to make restrictionism the core principle of U.S. immigration policy, he and other nativists in Congress have over the past several years shifted the immigration debate toward their terms—national security, cultural unity, and border control—at the national, state, and local levels. Last year Newsweek correctly noted that "Tom Tancredo is pulling the immigration debate to the right—and away from Bush." Border security and immigration law enforcement have moved from the margins to become mainstream political fare.

While immigration restrictionism is hardly a surefire way to win elections, anti-immigration has become one of the key issues, along with abortion, gay rights, and gun control, that forge new unity among social conservatives. Tancredo’s candidacy will force presidential hopefuls to spell out their positions on legalization, border security, and guestworkers.

Tancredo, who craves publicity, is likely to attract all the media he can handle—not only because of his outspoken position against immigration, but also because of his provocative views on other issues. Speaking two weeks ago at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Tancredo had the crowd roaring with approval of his red-meat attacks on liberals, moderates, and even other conservatives.

Although regarded as a one-trick pony with his rabid anti-immigrant views, Tancredo is positioning himself as the only true conservative in the current Republican field of candidates. Boasting a 98% lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union, Tancredo can rightfully claim his conservative credentials. Though immigration is his defining issue, Tancredo says that he doesn’t mind being described as a single-issue candidate if people understand that "my single issue is the survival and success of the conservative movement in America."

At CPAC, he railed against what he called "hyphenated conservatives" such as "commonsense conservatives" and "compassionate conservatives." Belief in limited government and traditional values are not to be apologized for, opined Tancredo. "Since when is conservatism itself not enough?" he asked the crowd.

Tancredo gained the favor of the conservative conference with his Ann Coulter-like attacks on liberalism. He warned that Miami is like a "Third World country" because of its immigrants and Spanish language usage and said that the United States needs a leader who supports a strong national defense "because our enemies are psychopaths and our allies are the French."

Tancredo regards immigration control in both military and cultural terms. "The only realistic solution to the problem of illegal immigration," says Tancredo on his 2008 campaign website, "is a strategy of attrition, which seeks to reduce the flow of the illegal alien population over time by cutting off the incentives for coming and staying in America—most importantly by eliminating the jobs magnet."

With our current immigration policies, "We are risking the development of a bilingual nation and a multicultural nation, which is almost an oxymoron," Tancredo has said. "It is very difficult to maintain something like that, especially [under] the kind of threat situation we’re in today with fundamentalist Islam" (OneNewsNow.com,February 12, 2007).

The battle against immigration, says Tancredo, is part of the global war on terrorism. "The very survival of Western Civilization is at risk," Tancredo has warned; he believes "we are in a clash of civilizations" (cited on the teamtancredo.com website).

Formerly a strong supporter of the war in Iraq, Tancredo now calls for a troop deployment to Afghanistan and other locations where the U.S. global war on terrorism is being waged. He says that the civil war in Iraq between Sunnis and Shiites is a process of establishing equilibrium between the deep schisms in Islam and that there is no need for the U.S. military to referee this bloody process.

On his Team Tancredo 2008 website, Tancredo positions himself as an outsider who pledges to "battle the special interests which now control both parties." Righteousness exudes from Tancredo, a politician who has no qualms about associating with nativist and seemingly racist anti-immigrant groups, including border vigilantes. Tancredo is a consistent opponent of gun control, despite living less than a mile from Columbine High School, the scene of one of the country’s most horrific school shootings.

When Tancredo won his first term in Congress in 1998, he pledged to leave office after three terms, but in 2004 and again in 2006 he said he was forced to break his pledge because the immigration threat required his continued leadership in Congress. In the coming months, Tancredo plans to take his "war of attrition" on the national campaign trail.

Tom Barry is the Policy Director of the International Relations Center (www.irc-online.org) and a contributor to Right Web (rightweb.irc-online.org).

 

 

Citations

Tom Barry, "Pushing the Anti-Immigration Agenda Further Right," Right Web Analysis (Somerville, MA: International Relations Center, March 13, 2007).

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Update was slow, but still no lag in the editor window, and footnotes are intact.     This has been updated – Bernard Lewis, who passed away in May 2018, was a renowned British-American historian of Islam and the Middle East. A former British intelligence officer, Foreign Office staffer, and Princeton University professor, Lewis was…


Bernard Lewis was a renowned historian of Islam and the Middle East who stirred controversy with his often chauvinistic attitude towards the Muslim world and his associations with high-profile neoconservatives and foreign policy hawks.


John Bolton, the controversial former U.S. ambassador to the UN and dyed-in the-wool foreign policy hawk, is President Trump’s National Security Adviser McMaster, reflecting a sharp move to the hawkish extreme by the administration.


Michael Joyce, who passed away in 2006, was once described by neoconservative guru Irving Kristol as the “godfather of modern philanthropy.”


Mike Pompeo, the Trump administration’s second secretary of state, is a long time foreign policy hawk and has led the public charge for an aggressive policy toward Iran.


Max Boot, neoconservative military historian at the Council on Foreign Relations, on Trump and Russia: “At every turn Trump is undercutting the ‘get tough on Russia’ message because he just can’t help himself, he just loves Putin too much.”


Michael Flynn is a former Trump administration National Security Advisor who was forced to step down only weeks on the job because of his controversial contacts with Russian officials before Trump took office.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Trump is not the problem. Think of him instead as a summons to address the real problem, which in a nation ostensibly of, by, and for the people is the collective responsibility of the people themselves. For Americans to shirk that responsibility further will almost surely pave the way for more Trumps — or someone worse — to come.


The United Nations has once again turn into a battleground between the United States and Iran, which are experiencing one of the darkest moments in their bilateral relations.


In many ways, Donald Trump’s bellicosity, his militarism, his hectoring cant about American exceptionalism and national greatness, his bullying of allies—all of it makes him not an opponent of neoconservatism but its apotheosis. Trump is a logical culmination of the Bush era as consolidated by Obama.


For the past few decades the vast majority of private security companies like Blackwater and DynCorp operating internationally have come from a relatively small number of countries: the United States, Great Britain and other European countries, and Russia. But that seeming monopoly is opening up to new players, like DeWe Group, China Security and Protection Group, and Huaxin Zhongan Group. What they all have in common is that they are from China.


The Trump administration’s massive sales of tanks, helicopters, and fighter aircraft are indeed a grim wonder of the modern world and never receive the attention they truly deserve. However, a potentially deadlier aspect of the U.S. weapons trade receives even less attention than the sale of big-ticket items: the export of firearms, ammunition, and related equipment.


Soon after a Saudi-led coalition strike on a bus killed 40 children on August 9, a CENTCOM spokesperson stated to Vox, “We may never know if the munition [used] was one that the U.S. sold to them.”


The West has dominated the post-war narrative with its doctrine of liberal values, arguing that not only were they right in themselves but that economic success itself depended on their application. Two developments have challenged those claims. The first was the West’s own betrayal of its principles: on too many occasions the self interest of the powerful, and disdain for the victims of collateral damage, has showed through. The second dates from more recently: the growth of Chinese capitalism owes nothing to a democratic system of government, let alone liberal values.


RightWeb
share