comprehensive immigration reform

Tony Perkins: Obama Immigration Order Inviting Terror Attacks on US Christians

A direct mail letter from FRC Action dated February 2015 features a shadowy outline of a machine-gun-wielding terrorist with the warning:

TERRORISM: no longer “out there”

How they’re become a threat to YOU and your family

Inside, the letter from Family Research Council President Tony Perkins connects the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris, the attacks on Coptic Christians in the Middle East, and what he calls the Obama administration’s “illegal amnesty program.”  Perkins warns that “it is clear that American families are being placed in serious danger by President Obama’s illegal executive order on immigration.”

After discussing ISIS efforts to recruit American Muslims, Perkins states:

It is clear that some people are coming across the border with ulterior motives—not simply looking for working in hopes of sending money home to their families. These are not simply rumors from news reports; I have this firsthand from people in government and in organizations focused on national security.

Perkins even manages to work in marriage equality:

This President refuses to acknowledge that there is evil in the world. Terrorists are not simply people who grew up in bad neighborhoods and developed bad attitudes. These are people who want to kill us.

President Obama holds a worldview – and a view of America – that puts everything we value at risk. In the same way that he shrugs off a radical redefinition of marriage, in the same way that he shrugs off the persecution of Christians in other countries (and adopts policies that contribute to it in our own country), he minimizes the threat of Islamic terrorists.

And by connecting these threats to what he calls the administration’s “lawlessness,” Perkins is even able to work in Obamacare.

Perkins ends with a P.S.:

As “People of the Cross,” it is clear that you and I have been targeted by the terrorists. It is no longer a vague “concern.” It is a very real threat. Our President is not protecting us. We must move Congress to ensure your safety and the safety of your children and grandchildren. We will fight for you on Capitol Hill. Please help us. Give generously today. Thank you again.

 

Evangelicals Opposed To Evangelicals For Immigration Reform

Today’s Heritage Foundation event featured conservative evangelicals who are unhappy with other evangelicals who are promoting comprehensive immigration reform. Our “who’s who” of the speakers turned out to be a good guide to what they had to say.  Speakers repeatedly (falsely) characterized the Senate immigration bill as “amnesty.”

James Hoffmeier, author of a book on immigration and the Bible, said he objects to people using the Bible to talk about immigration “the wrong way” and “misuse the scriptures to advance a cause.” He argues that undocumented immigrants are not the kind of people referred to in Bible verses about being welcoming to strangers.

Mark Tooley of the Institute on Religion and Democracy griped about mainline denominations demonstrating a lack of concern for border security.  He credited evangelicals endorsing comprehensive immigration reform for citing a need for border security, but criticized them for supporting the “mass legalization” in the Senate bill, which he characterized as legalization first, border security later.

Kelly Kullberg organized Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration as a counter to the Evangelical Immigration Table, which energetically backs the Senate bill.  She is also, like Tooley, a founder of Christians for a Sustainable Economy (CASE), a group that criticized Christians calling themselves the “Circle of Protection,” who had argued against cuts to federal programs that serve the poor.  (In a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders, CASE asked, “Whom would Jesus indebt?” and declared “The Good Samaritan did not use a government credit card.”) Kullberg made similar points about the immigration bill, saying America is a “near-bankrupt welfare state living on borrowed money” and cannot afford “amnesty” and “an influx of foreign labor.” She said “Kindness to foreigners should not be theft or injustice to citizens.” She also said that nowhere in scripture do we see “blanket amnesty or asylum.”

Carol Swain, right-wing author and law professor, argued that Christians should support respect for the rule of law. Swain warned “We’re welcoming people who totally reject who we are as a people,” and said we create problems for ourselves “if we bring in people who are not easily assimilated.” She declared, “There is no place in America for Sharia law in the U.S. Constitution.”  But Swain said she favors immigration reform if it is done the “right way” and encouraged people to read her book, Be the People, to find out how.

 

Who's Who at Heritage Foundation's Rebuke to Pro-Immigration Reform Evangelicals

In recent years, a growing number of conservative evangelicals have joined more progressive Christians to embrace comprehensive immigration reform.  Members of the Evangelical Immigration Table have been making the case for reform at Religious Right events in recent years; one prominent conservative evangelical, Sam Rodriguez, recently announced a 40-day fast to advance reform legislation.

As RWW has reported, getting conservatives on board has been a hard sell, particularly for the “Teavangelical” wing of the Religious Right, whose members tend to stand with hard-right anti-immigration politicians. In particular, some conservatives aren’t happy about having the Bible quoted by those lobbying for passage of the bill that passed the Senate earlier this year.  In response, conservative activist Kelly Monroe Kullberg started a competing group, Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration.  

This Friday, her group is getting a boost from the Heritage Foundation, which is hosting “Doing Good to the Stranger and the Citizen: Evangelicals Discuss Immigration Reform.”

Here’s a quick look at the speaker line-up:

Kelly Monroe Kullberg

Kullberg is a founder of Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration. She accuses leaders of the Evangelical Immigration Table of being “deceptive and manipulative.” She complains that reform backers are supported by “atheist globalist and open border advocate George Soros.” She says the Senate “Gang of Eight” bill “does not reflect balanced biblical teaching” and would “make asylum easier for people like the Boston Marathon bombers.”

Kullberg decries “easy sloganeering” by reform advocates and says the U.S. cannot afford more immigrants. She says Jesus and biblical passages encourage the welcoming of some, but not all, strangers – those willing to assimilate culturally and religiously – and “also remind us to love not only the foreigner who comes to us in need, but our neighbors, such as those in Arizona, whose needs are being ignored.”

In a June letter Kullberg wrote:

The ‘Gang of Eight’ immigration bill will increase debt and danger in America for both citizens and guests, thus further precipitating the decline of the America we love and steward. In Scripture we are taught to make wise distinctions between the well-meaning sojourner (the 'ger' in Hebrew) and the foreigner who does not advance a nation’s faith, values and story (the 'goyim').

Kullberg recently spoke to American Family Association talk show host Sandy Rios where she warned of the dangers that an immigration reform bill would case people of “other faiths” and “incompatible worldviews” to flood into the United States, diminishing respect for the value of human life and leading to an increase in human trafficking.

Carol M. Swain

Swain is a professor at Vanderbilt Law School who has edited books on immigration and white nationalism.  She has created a non-profit group to help her promote her conservative views. When she showered praise on a “documentary” film called “A Conversation About Race,” the Southern Poverty Law Center called her “an apologist for white supremacists.” She and her supporters at the anti-immigration Center for Immigration Studies lambasted SPLC – she calls it a hate group that “harasses conservatives” – but even her fans at the Wall Street Journal, which came to her defense, found parts of the film “inflammatory and invidious.”  And they noted that on immigration, Swain’s views “are closer to Lou Dobbs’s than to ours.”

Swain’s most recent book, 2011’s Be the People, places her firmly in the right-wing activist camp. She says the book is “a call to action for We the People to reclaim our nation’s faith and promise.”  The blurbs at the front of Be the People let you know what you’re in for. Among the right-wing stars praising the book are Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, Tony Perkins, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Robert George, Harry Jackson, and Jesse Lee Peterson. 

No wonder they love Swain: she writes respectfully of those who question President Obama’s faith and about birthers – she calls the term itself “pejorative” and an “epithet. Part of the book is a Christian-nation screed that would make David Barton proud. “We are engaged in a battle for the soul of our nation,” she writes. She slams the Supreme Court’s rulings on separation of church and state, saying, “The expulsion of God from public schools was a blow to civil religion and a clear repudiation of what Jesus proclaimed to be the greatest commandment.”

She cites Stephen Keillor, who says the 9/11 attacks might have been God’s judgment against the United States, which we well deserve. “We are being confronted with numerous national disasters and freak weather patterns. Could some of these occurrences be related to our decision to reject biblical injunctions against abortion, greed, homosexuality, fornication, and adultery?” While Swain calls her book a “rallying cry” for people to get involved, she also says it may be too late for America to escape God’s wrath for having violated the covenant its founders made with God.  “Accept the fact that no matter what Christians and other believers do, it may be too late to save the United States of America….As it stands, we do not know if judgment has been determined for our nation.”

In the chapter on immigration reform, SWain mentions testifying on immigration before a congressional committee. She was outnumbered on the panel, she says, but was encouraged by friendly faces like those of Reps. Steve King and Lamar Smith. She writes, “In light of the high unemployment in the US, no sensible argument can be made for legalizing millions of undocumented persons currently holding jobs to which they are not entitled.”

Swain also takes on the interpretation of scripture by pro-reform evangelicals, saying that the “stranger” in Old Testament injunctions does not apply to people in the U.S. illegally. She even impugns Catholic leaders for supporting immigration reform efforts, suggesting they are motivated by a desire to boost church membership. Among the specific proposals in her definition of reform are that Congress should “flex its muscles” and legislatively close the “loophole” of birthright citizenship under the 14th amendment.

Mark Tooley

Tooley is president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a rght-wing group dedicated to attacking progressive elements within mainstream and evangelical Christianity and resisting the advance of LGBT equality at home and abroad. IRD calls the Evangelical Immigration Table a front group for George Soros and derides the Evangelical Immigration Table's “I was a stranger” campaign as “a masterful piece of emotional blackmail.” IRD has suggested that EIT is trying to manipulate evangelicals, which would be “a sad betrayal of a flock by its shepherds.”

IRD has also  insinuated that religious backers of the Senate immigration reform bill are just eager to get their hands on a “slush fund” of taxpayer dollars the bill includes for organizations that assist immigrants.

Tooley has criticized pro-reform leaders’ “superficial ‘God-talk’” and suggested that religious leaders should not be spending their time on immigration reform, which he says is not of the same “moral order” as “marriage, human life, and religious liberty.” In speaking about immigration, Tooley says it is “very problematic when people of faith start to claim that the Bible gives them very direct guidance on a particular contemporary political issue.” Well, that will certainly be news to the folks at the Heritage Foundation and the conservative evangelicals who are presumably the target for Friday’s event.

James Hoffmeier

Hoffmeier is Professor of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern History and Archaeology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is author of The Immigration Crisis: Immigrants, Aliens, and the Bible, a book that seems to be the basis for other speakers’ claims about the Old Testament. Hoffmeier summarizes his book in “The Use and Abuse of the Bible in the Immigration Debate,” which is published on the website of the Center for Immigration Studies, which along with FAIR and NumbersUSA form a trio of anti-immigrant groups that the Southern Poverty Law Center calls “the core of the nativist lobby in America.” He says the Old Testament makes a distinction between strangers – equivalent to a resident alien who agreed to abide by the law – and foreigners, who did not have the same legal protections. Hoffmeier criticizes the “sanctuary” movement in America, saying, “So when American cities offer their cities as sanctuary from federal law, or when churches offer their facilities as a refuge for illegal immigrants who have been tried and order deported, they are neither following the letter or spirit of the OT law.” Or in other words, “American cities that use their communities to circumvent the law to help the illegal alien in the name of justice are doing a gross injustice to the letter and spirit of the biblical law.”

From a Publisher’s Weekly review of his book:  

“The book offers little in the way of sociological, political or economic insight into the circumstances surrounding modern-day illegal immigration, beyond advocating for a law-and-order approach. Missing from this analysis is an understanding of the Bible as a prophetic document more concerned with larger issues of justice. Still, Christians looking for a biblical justification for strict federal enforcement of immigration laws may find much to like.”

Ginni Thomas and Phyllis Schlafly Discuss 'Cultural Marxism,' 'The Left’s Ultimate Agenda'

In an interview posted yesterday at the Daily Caller, Tea Party activist Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, sat down with Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly to discuss the issues of the day.

Discussing bipartisan immigration policy, Schlafly repeated her assertion that modernizing the country’s immigration system would be “suicide for the Republican Party” because new immigrants want “taxpayer goodies” from Democrats.

This led Thomas to ask Schlafly, “How does this immigration bill advance the Left’s ultimate agenda?” Schlafly responded that progressives are using immigration reform to achieve “global government” because “they don’t like the Constitution.”

Later in the interview, Thomas asked Schlafly about the belief of “some” that “cultural Marxists have already won in our country.” Schlafly agreed, saying that the “tremendous decline in marriage” is ruining America. “I grew up during the great Depression,” Schlafly added, “and we didn’t need government to do anything.”

Phyllis Schlafly on Immigration Reform: Gang of 8 'Betrays America'

Phyllis Schlafly has been an outspoken opponent of comprehensive immigration reform, has sent activists a long rant against the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill, charging that the Gang of 8 “betrays” America.

Schlafly pulls out all the stops, citing the widely discredited Heritage Foundation study on the costs of the legislation and approvingly quoting Sens. Jeff Sessions, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Charles Grassey saying “Americans expect their government to end the lawlessness, not surrender to it.”

While Schlafly’s outrage is in fine form, her timing is a little bit off. The email alert, which urges activists to contact their senators and urge a vote against the immigration bill, arrived the morning after the bill passed the Senate on a bipartisan 68-32 vote.

Conservative Latinos Slam Anti-Immigrant Voices at Ralph Reed Conference

The immigration divide evident from the opening hours of the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s “Road to Majority” conference became even more stark as the conference went on.  During a Friday afternoon breakout session on outreach to minorities, called “The True Rainbow Coalition: Building an Organization in Minority Faith Communities,” Hispanic conservatives went after Phyllis Schlafly, Eagle Forum, and other speakers who had trashed the immigration reform bill during the morning session.

Panelist Adryana Boyne, director of VOCES Action who is also promoting Voto Honesto, a Hispanic-focused initiative of voter ID-advocating True the Vote, warned that without the Hispanic vote, conservatives will never win another election. Boyne said that conservative Latinos are angered by the kind of rhetoric she was hearing at the conference. “We understand how to reach minorities,” she said. “When we hear people saying that we do not need the minority vote, we just need the white vote, we get outraged….”

Boyne said she understands people’s frustration with the RNC, though she gave party leaders some credit for trying to engage Latinos. But she said those efforts are stymied by other conservatives. “People like us that are building bridges – that’s what I do every day – get really very upset when somebody else burns the bridge that I just built, like just happened today, here.”

She also noted the racist online responses to the 11-year old Mexican-American who sang the national anthem to open game 3 of the NBA finals. When a questioner suggested that maybe those posts were planted by liberals to try to make conservatives look bad, Boyne rejected the effort to deflect blame for conservatives’ problems with Latinos onto liberals. “Let me just be clear with you,” she said, “We are talking about Republicans. We are talking about the speakers who came here today, Faith & Freedom, to speak, and who we disagree with.”

Another panelist, businessman Alfredo Ortiz, Director of Hispanic Initiatives for the Job Creators Network, agreed with Boyne that there is a problem with Republicans, including party leaders, senators, and representatives, who go on Fox and use anti-immigrant rhetoric. It’s about winning the war, not the battles, he said. And unless conservatives abandon anti-immigrant rhetoric, they will lose the war.  He described the turnout for the minority outreach session as “a pretty pathetic showing.”

As if to confirm the problem Boyne and Ortiz identified, Donald Trump, the keynoter at Friday night’s gala dinner, talked about undocumented immigrants as “those people” and said Republicans supporting the reform bill had a “death wish” because “every one of those people, and the tens of millions of people that they will bring in with them, through family, through relationship, through birth, they will be absolutely voting Democratic.”

The back-and-forth continued on Saturday. Two Hispanic speakers, John Mendez of the LIBRE initiative and Rachel Campos Duffy, argued that Hispanics share conservatives’ values and could help build a majority if conservatives invested in community organizing and outreach. On an all-white-guys panel on conservatism and changing demographics, right-wing journalist John Fund echoed the call for conservatives to build bridges in minority communities by organizing businesses and churches to provide needed services.

But the final word went to closing speaker Sarah Palin, who spoke of the bipartisan immigration reform bill moving through the Senate in the most dismissive terms: “And let’s not kid ourselves into believing that we can rebuild our majority, by the way, by passing a pandering, rewarding-the-rule-breakers, still-no-border-security, special-interest-written amnesty bill.”

Immigration Reform a Tough Sell to Ralph Reed's 'Teavangelicals'

A group of conservative evangelical leaders has been pushing their fellow conservatives to embrace immigration reform, in part as a way to make the Religious Right and the Republican Party more appealing to the nation’s growing Latino population. Ralph Reed has been among those supporting the idea of a comprehensive reform bill, but at his Faith & Freedom Coalition’s “Road to Majority” conference in Washington DC, many of the “Teavangelical” activists – people who are part of both the Tea Party and Religious Right movement – aren’t buying.

Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, who has been telling white evangelicals that they should embrace an influx of Jesus-loving Latinos as the salvation of Christianity in America, spoke in Friday morning’s session. He urged attendees not to drink the anti-immigrant “Kool-aid.” He told them not to believe the charge that 11 million immigrants would become Democratic voters if given citizenship. The conservative movement does not exist to conserve pigmentation or a white majority, he said, and it needs some “salsa sauce” on top.

Unfortunately for Rodriguez and his fellow proponents of immigration reform, two previous speakers, Gary Bauer and Allen West, had already spoken in disparaging terms about the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” immigration reform bill moving through the Senate.  Bauer said Republicans in Washington spend too much time listening to consultants rather than standing firm on their principles. “You don’t have to go off and pass amnesty,” he said.  Former Congressman Allen West said that the “illegal immigration and amnesty bill” would make life harder for African Americans. And immediately following Rodriguez to the microphone was Phyllis Schlafly, who ramped up the rhetoric, telling attendees that they should threaten to run primary challengers against Senate Republicans who voted for the immigration bill.

Driving home that message was Colleen Holcomb, executive director of Schlafly’s Eagle Forum.  Holcomb was part of a panel on immigration reform that was moderated by Carlos Campo, president of Pat Robertson’s Regent University. Campo, who backs immigration reform, introduced Holcomb as a Regent alum, but that didn’t deter her from making slashing attacks on the Senate immigration bill. In fact, she at least indirectly criticized Campo and Ralph Reed himself when she said she was “profoundly offended” when faith leaders suggested that there was a biblical mandate for this kind of bill. She urged people to take advantage of resources available at www.stopgangof8.com. Holcomb later agreed with a questioner that it was an “outrageous lie” to suggest that the Senate bill reflects conservative principles.

Panelist Carlos Curbelo of the Miami-Dade County School Board tried to convince audience members that the current bill is not “amnesty” the way the 1986 immigration bill had been. Another panelist, state rep Steve Montenegro of Arizona, said the bill needed to include stronger border security provisions. When he asked for a show of hands – not a single person said they trusted that the Senate bill would secure the border.  And when he followed up, asking in effect, but how many of you would be willing to work with provisions of the bill if it did secure the border, very few hands went up.

It seems clear that Reed’s audience is more in sync with Schlafly than Rodriguez. That may be why Reed, who says reform should reflect Judeo-Christian principles – which he says include strengthening the family, respecting the rule of law, meeting the needs of the U.S. economy, and including “enforcement triggers” on border security – is also careful to include vehement denunciations of “amnesty” and “guaranteed paths to citizenship for illegal immigrants currently residing in the country.”

Tea Party Senators Kick Off Ralph Reed's Faith & Freedom Conference

Four of the Tea Party’s favorite senators – Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee of Utah, and Marco Rubio of Florida – addressed the kick-off lunch for this year’s “Road to Majority” conference, which is sponsored by Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition.

Rand Paul made his case for a humbler foreign policy, suggesting that anti-abortion “pro-life” advocates should also think about the lives of 18- and 19-year old soldiers sent abroad before applauding a politician who talks with bravado about pre-emptive wars.  He said that even when American soldiers go to war with the best of intentions, the law of unintended consequences can be merciless.

Paul told activists that there is a worldwide “war on Christianity” that is being waged not only by “liberal elites” but also by American taxpayers through the country’s financial support of countries that persecute Christians. “American taxpayer dollars are being used to enable a war on Christianity in the Middle East.”

Paul took the requisite political shot at Barack Obama, saying the "scandals" surrounding the administration were causing the president to lose his "moral authority" to lead the country.

Johnson said the root cause of the country’s problem was that too many Americans were either never taught or have forgotten the “foundational premise” of the country. The nation’s founders, he said, understood that while government is necessary, its growth is something to fear. “Far too many Americans,” he said, “are willingly trading their freedom and ours for the false sense, the false promise of economic security.”

Johnson said he would like Americans to take their disgust about the IRS, or Benghazi, or the NSA, and apply it in a broader way to the federal government.  He said people who talked about restoring trust in government have the wrong idea.  What we should do, he said, is foster a healthy distrust of the government.

Lee said conservatives had not focused too much on families, but too little.  He said conservatives have to have an agenda that includes “forgotten” families at the bottom rung of the economic ladder, policies that address the effect of stagnant wages, rising costs of housing, etc. He called for a new “conservative reform” agenda that didn’t seem all that new: tax cuts to encourage entrepreneurship, school choice, and welfare reform, as well as an end to “corporate welfare.” 

Lee said conservatives are opposed to big government because a small government encourages a healthy civil society. Conservatives, he said, aren’t about a “you’re on your own” philosophy, but rather a “we’re in this together” one. But in his take, “in this together” does not involve the government. Without an intrusive government, he said, communities and churches would take care of people. Remember, Lee is the guy who believes the welfare state is unconstitutional, along with restrictions on freedom such as child-labor laws.

Marco Rubio has taken some heat from some of his fellow conservatives recently for his advocacy of immigration reform.  Reed is on record supporting comprehensive reform, but talking points for the activists’ post-lunch lobbying on Capitol Hill reflect tensions within the movement.  While it talked about the biblical basis for a compassionate immigration policy, it also talked about the rule of law and a so-called “enforcement trigger.”  One of the talking points says, “Alongside our principles, we vehemently oppose amnesty and guaranteed paths to citizenship for illegal immigrants currently residing in the country.”

Rubio revisited his campaign theme of American exceptionalism.  He used a biblical passage from Matthew chapter 5 to encourage activists to keep bringing their faith into their political activism, especially, he said, at a time when people are told they should silence their faith.

Rubio expanded on the notion that Christians should be the “salt of the earth” and a light unto the world to take on the foreign policy portion of Rand Paul’s remarks, without naming Paul specifically. A call to retreat from the world, he said, is a call for America to hide its light, and there is no nation that can replace the U.S. and its example of freedom:

“Our light must shine so that others will look to us and give glory to our heavenly father.”

Rubio made a couple of references to protecting marriage, but none of the senators explicitly addressed the battle over marriage equality. Talking points for activists’ afternoon lobbying visits on Capitol Hill were clearer. “Public polling overstates the support for same-sex marriage,” claim the talking points “The American people have overwhelmingly supported traditional marriage in votes on state referenda and initiatives.”

Also on the lobbying agenda: asking representatives to support the House of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act, which would allow churches and preachers to engage in explicit electoral politicking without consequences for their nonprofit tax status.

Eagle Forum Rallies Anti-Immigrant Activists; Caller Suggests Shooting Senator

With immigration reform moving toward a vote in the Senate, anti-immigrant forces are ratcheting up their rhetoric.  On Wednesday night, Eagle Forum hosted an “emergency” phone briefing intended to spur grassroots lobbying by their activists.  It featured dire warnings about the Senate bill spelling doom for America, attacks on pro-reform Sen. Marco Rubio, and a joking suggestion that activists planning a visit to Sen. Susan Collins’ office “shoot her.”

Joining Eagle Forum’s Colleen Holcomb were Stephen Miller (standing in for his boss Sen. Jeff Sessions), Rosemary Jenks from anti-immigration Numbers USA, right-wing pundit Betsy McCaughey, and activist leaders from around the country. Also joining the call was the Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector, whose much-maligned “study” of the costs of immigration reform has gained attention mostly for the views of its co-author, since forced to leave Heritage, that immigration policy should reflect his belief that Hispanics have lower IQs than the “white native” population of the U.S.

One notable feature of the call was anger at Sen. Marco Rubio, who not long ago was the darling of the Tea Party movement, but who is now vilified for his support of immigration reform.  Speakers on the Eagle Forum call expressed contempt for Rubio, saying he has been lying about the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” bill. 

Rosemary Jenks from Numbers USA called the current Senate bill “devastating for America” and worse than the immigration bill that was defeated in 2007.  “If this amnesty passes,” she warned, “that’s it for America.”  Jenks insisted there is no way to fix the bill. “There is no series of amendments that can make this bill palatable to the American people,” she said. “Kill it dead, now, because it is not savable.”  Jenks said it is important to keep the bill from passing in the Senate, because if it passes, and the House passes any kind of immigration legislation, the bills would go to conference where she said it would leave our future in the hands of President Obama, Harry Reid, and John Boehner.

Betsy McCaughey, a right-wing think-tanker and former Lt. Governor of New York, urged activists to point out sections of the bill that she said people will find “repulsive,” including provisions that she said would put “left-wing community organizations” in charge of assisting people applying for legal status. She said Rubio has not read the bill he is promoting.

Rector echoed that charge, saying Rubio “has no knowledge whatsoever” of what is in the bill.  Rector defended his calculation that the immigration reform bill would cost America $6 trillion over the next 50 years and accused the bill’s supporters of deceiving the American public about its costs.

Callers were urged to rely on resources from Numbers USA, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, and the Center for Immigration Studies, a trio of organizations that are, in the words of the Southern Poverty Law Center, “fruits of the same poisonous tree.”  According to the SPLC,  

“Together, FAIR, CIS, and Numbers USA form the core of the nativist lobby in America. In 2007, they were key players in derailing bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform that had been expected by many observers to pass. Today, these organizations are frequently treated as if they were legitimate, mainstream commentators on immigration. But the truth is that they were all conceived and birthed by a man who sees America under threat by non-white immigrants. And they have never strayed from their roots.”

The remarks about Sen. Collins came in response to a question from an activist looking for suggestions for an upcoming meeting with her district office.  “Yeah, shoot her,” came the response from a participant on the call.  Awkward laughter followed, along with a speaker’s suggestion that they “shoot her with data.”

Maybe She Wishes Romney's Position Wasn't So Clear

The Republican National Committee’s Hispanic Outreach Director Bettina Inclan sparked a mini-firestorm today when she told reporters that she could not comment on Romney’s immigration positions because “he’s still deciding what his position on immigration is.”  She later tried to clean up the mess by tweeting that she was mistaken, and that his position was clear, linking to his website

Unfortunately for Romney and for the RNC’s Hispanic outreach, his position is all too clear: he opposes not only “amnesty” but all “magnets” – such as the DREAM Act or in-state tuition for students whose parents brought them here as children.  Romney has backed legislation, like Arizona’s, that has the goal of making life for undocumented immigrants so miserable that they will choose to “self-deport.”  That’s a bit much even for some right-wing activists, including some of those at the Freedom Federation’s recent Awakening conference in Orlando, Florida, where one speaker called the “self-deportation” approach “cruel” and “unbiblical” and where the Southern Baptists’ Richard Land called the GOP’s positions on immigration policy “dismal” and “indefensible.”

House GOP Picks Ethically-Challenged Freshmen for Judiciary Committee

The House Republican Leadership recently announced that incoming Pennsylvania Congressman Tom Marino and Arkansas Congressman Tim Griffin have been assigned seats on Rep. Lamar Smith’s Judiciary Committee. Marino and Griffin, who were profiled in Right Wing Watch’s The Ten Scariest Republicans Heading to Congress, are peculiar picks for a committee which has “jurisdiction over matters relating to the administration of justice in federal courts, administrative bodies, and law enforcement agencies” since both Republicans were dogged by corruption and ethics scandals prior to their successful bids for Congress.

Marino resigned from his position as a US Attorney in the wake of a brewing scandal over his ties to resort owner and convicted felon Louis DeNaples. He described DeNaples as his “close friend” and provided a reference for DeNaples when he attempted to win state approval to have slot machines at his resort.

But when Marino’s own office opened an investigation into DeNaples over his ties to organized crime, Marino's assistants discovered the reference and the Department of Justice (DOJ) transferred the case to the US Attorney of Binghamton, NY. The DOJ later launched an investigation of Marino “for allegedly violating several department guidelines” over the “reference letter he wrote to help Louis DeNaples get a casino license,” but the investigation ended once Marino resigned.

Responding to criticism about his ties to DeNaples, Marino declared during an interview that he has evidence the DOJ gave him permission to serve as a reference. However, Boryk Krawczeniuk of The Times-Tribune found that DOJ officials never gave him permission, and Marino failed to produce his “evidence.” Krawczeniuk writes that the DOJ confirmed to multiple news outlets that Marino never sought or received such permission: “an Associated Press story, quoting an anonymous Justice Department source, said the department had ‘no record’ that Mr. Marino sought or received Justice authorization to serve as a reference for Mr. DeNaples. A Justice spokeswoman confirmed the department had no such record last week to The Citizens’ Voice newspaper in Wilkes-Barre, which is owned by the same company as The Times-Tribune.”

Eventually, Marino backed away from his false claim that he was given permission from the DOJ, and “told the Sunbury Daily Item he never asked the Justice Department for permission to serve as a reference.”

After Marino resigned in order to end the DOJ investigations into his actions, he quickly obtained a $250,000-a-year job as “DeNaples’ in-house lawyer.” In his financial disclosure form, Marino under-reported his income and stated that his DeNaples’ salary was just $25,000 annually.

The conservative blog RedState’s Zack Oldham said of Marino’s actions: “The reality is just as bad as–if not worse than–the optics of this scandal.”

Marino’s relationship with DeNaples and his attempts to cover-up his ethics troubles were not his first encounter with ethics questions. As a District Attorney, Marino approached a judge to toss out his friend’s conviction on drug charges. After the Judge refused, the Luzeme County Citizens Voice reports that Marino “approached another judge and won the expungement, but the plan backfired when the second judge learned of the first judge's involvement in the case.”

Despite the corruption accusations, false statements, and the DOJ investigation which plagued Marino’s legal career, House Republicans still picked him for a Judiciary Committee post. Perhaps, Marino was picked due to his staunchly anti-immigrant views, as incoming Judiciary Committee Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX) intends to use the committee to push a hard line agenda that includes overturning the 14th Amendment’s of birthright citizenship. Marino opposes comprehensive immigration reform, backs Arizona’s draconian SB 1070, and was endorsed by Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, which has been described as a “nativist extremist organization.” Just as Smith said that President Obama was “awfully close to a violation of [his] oath of office” as a result of his immigration policy, Marino said he would consider impeaching the President over his handling of immigration.

Like Marino, freshman Tim Griffin was forced to resign as a US Attorney and faced his own ethics questions. Griffin worked his way up through the Republican Party ranks through his work in opposition research and was known as “a protégé of Karl Rove.” He worked for the Bush presidential campaigns and has ties to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Griffin then aided efforts in the Bush White House to replace US Attorneys with partisan appointees, and then-US Attorney Paul Charlton said that Griffin “spread the rumors around the White House that Bud Cummins,” who was the US Attorney of Northeast Arkansas at the time, “was not a good U.S. attorney.”

When Cummins was fired, Griffin was appointed to take his place. Deputy Attorney General Paul McNaulty later testified that “Cummings was fired to make a place for Griffin at the urging of Karl Rove and Harriet Miers,” the former White House Counsel. Kyle Sampson, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s Chief of Staff, wrote in an email that “getting him appointed was important to Harriet, Karl, etc.” Former US Attorney David Iglesias, said that Tim Griffin “never should have been U.S. Attorney, he was fundamentally unqualified.”

However, Griffin resigned from his position as US Attorney when the BBC uncovered documents showing his work in “vote caging” operations in Florida while he was working for the Bush reelection campaign. Griffin tried to suppress the vote by designing and sending out “caging lists” which “were heavily weighted with minority voters including homeless individuals, students and soldiers sent overseas.”

The Arkansas Leader wrote that “The White House intended to fully consolidate the entire federal criminal justice system into its political operation” and Griffin’s “resignation or dismissal ought to be imminent.” Griffin resigned from his post as US Attorney on May 30, 2007.

Now, two former US Attorneys who resigned under the cloud of scandal will have seats on the Judiciary Committee. By selecting Marino and Griffin, the Republican leadership rewarded coveted posts to two freshmen with serious and troubling ethics questions on the committee which oversees the court system, the rule of law, and law enforcement.

Right Wing Panics Over DREAM Act

As the House is set to vote on the DREAM Act, right wing commentators and politicians are going into overdrive to disparage and vilify the bill. The DREAM Act provides a pathway to legal status to students and military servicemembers to the children of illegal immigrants who were not born in the country. Individuals considered for citizenship under the latest proposal cannot be older than 29; must have lived in the US for at least five consecutive years, have a clean record, and “would limit individuals from being able to sponsor family members for U.S. citizenship, among other changes.” According to the National Immigration Law Center, the bill won’t lead to preferred treatment for illegal immigrants, affect tuition rates, or have an impact on college admission rates.

Michelle Malkin blasted “the entitlement mentality” of students supporting the DREAM Act, as only in the world of right wing fear-mongers like Michelle Malkin can students who lack legal status be considered privileged and entitled:

Open-borders radicalism means never having to apologize for absurd self-contradiction.

The way illegal alien students on college campuses across the country tell it, America is a cruel, selfish and racist nation that has never given them or their families a break. Yet despite their bottomless grievances, they're not going anywhere.

And despite their gripes about being forced "into the shadows," they've been out in the open protesting at media-driven hunger strikes and flooding the airwaves demanding passage of the so-called DREAM Act. This bailout plan would benefit an estimated 2.1 million illegal aliens at an estimated cost of up to $20 billion.

Like Malkin, radio talk show host Roger Hedgecock used bogus figures and claims in his WorldNetDaily tirade against the DREAM Act:

With "comprehensive immigration reform" dead because of voter awareness that this is code speak for blanket amnesty for "undocumented Democrats," the new amnesty is called the DREAM Act. Democrats are determined to push for congressional votes on the DREAM Act this week.



As WND reported last week, the cost to taxpayers for the "student amnesty" could reach $44 billion. That's because the estimated 2.1 million new "students" (and it will be many more than this administration estimate) qualify for student assistance under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

Republican lawmakers tempted to follow the liberal ethnic group playbook and vote for the DREAM Act to placate Latino radical groups need to look at the actual election results, too.

Iowa Congressman Steve King, who will soon chair the main subcommittee on immigration policy, called the DREAM Act an “affirmative action program for illegals” and said Congress should oppose the law since “sitting in the classroom next to some of them if the DREAM Act passes, will be inevitably a widow or a widower or a son or a daughter of someone who has lost their life in Iraq or Afghanistan defending our liberty and our freedom.”

 

Meet Congressman-Elect Tom Marino: Plagued by Corruption Charges

Following the election, RWW will bring you our list of the "The Ten Scariest Republicans Heading to Congress." Our ninth candidate profile is on Tom Marino of Pennsylvania:

In 2007, Tom Marino resigned from his position as US Attorney in Pennsylvania after a corruption scandal clouded his career and raised questions about his honesty. Marino had used his official title as US Attorney to provide a reference in 2005 to his “close friend,” convicted felon Louis DeNaples, who was trying to win the state gaming commission’s approval to open slot machines at a resort he owned. When his office began an investigation into DeNaples for lying about his ties to organized crime, Marino's assistants uncovered his reference and notified the Justice Department, which transferred the investigation out of Marino’s office. But questions about Marino’s ties to DeNaples remained.

Defending his actions, Marino said on a local radio show that the Department of Justice gave him permission to be a reference for DeNaples. But the Justice Department says there is “no record of Marino having received the permission” to serve as a reference for DeNaples and that Marino never informed the General Counsel office. Although Marino stands by his claim that he received written permission, he failed to produce any letter from the Department.

When the Justice Department launched an investigation into Marino’s actions, he resigned and promptly took a $250,000-a-year job as “DeNaples’ in-house lawyer.” Marino later under-reported his income on his financial disclosure forms, reporting that he only received $25,000 from DeNaples. Even Zack Oldham of the conservative blog RedState said of Marino’s actions: “The reality is just as bad as–if not worse than–the optics of this scandal.”

The DeNaples affair wasn’t even the first time Marino had run into corruption accusations. When Marino was District Attorney in Lycoming County, he tried to get a friend out of a drug charge by going behind the back of the county judge who had refused to toss out his friend’s conviction. According to the Luzeme County Citizens Voice, Marino “approached another judge and won the expungement, but the plan backfired when the second judge learned of the first judge's involvement in the case.”

Marino continued to struggle with the truth in his campaign for Congress. He criticized his opponent, Rep. Chris Carney, for leaving Washington as an anti-abortion rights bill was being circulated during the health care reform debate. Carney was not in Washington at the time because his wife was undergoing surgery for breast cancer.

He later alleged that Carney “has no problem spending taxpayers’ money for abortions” and that Pennsylvania women were receiving taxpayer-subsidized abortions under the new health care law, even though nonpartisan fact-checkers have confirmed, repeatedly, that the law prohibits taxpayer funding for abortion.

Marino also berated his opponent for refusing to take questions from the press on political matters after Carney, a Navy Reservist, was called for active duty and was barred by law from making “statements to or answer questions from the news media regarding political issues or regarding government policies.”

But his ethical challenges have not kept the far-right from embracing him. In fact, his rightwing politics have earned him the endorsement of Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, Rick Santorum’s America’s Foundation, Mike Huckabee’s HuckPAC, the Family Research Council, and the Government Is Not God PAC.

On the issue of immigration, Marino opposes a pathway for citizenship for illegal immigrants, and touts his endorsement from Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, which has been called a “nativist extremist organization” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In his Americans for Legal Immigration PAC survey, Marino says he strongly favors Arizona’s severe SB 1070 law, would refuse to support comprehensive immigration reform, and that he would consider impeaching the President over immigration policy.

Marino said he would vote against extending unemployment benefits, maintaining that some of the people on unemployment simply don’t “want to go get work because they are being paid to stay home.” He said that non-senior citizens should face cuts in Social Security benefits if not the elimination of the program altogether, saying: “my generation and probably the generation that follows me, we are going to have to step up to the plate and say, ‘We are not going to get Social Security.’” The 60 Plus Association, a front group for the health care and pharmaceutical industries which supports privatizing Social Security, aired TV ads on Marino’s behalf.

In a radio interview in August, Marino reportedly suggested eliminating the IRS and the Departments of Education and Energy and replacing them with new agencies, saying, “There’s got to be a total revolution there.”

Despite the ethical cloud surrounding Marino, his hard-line conservative views and support from the Radical Right helped him win election to Congress. Watch this segment from an NBC affiliate revealing Marino’s ethical troubles:

 

 

 

"God Is Going To Do Something Supernatural In These Elections"

Over the weekend, Cindy and Mike Jacobs of Generals International hosted a three hour event in Dallas, TX designed to be a "powerful night of worship and prayer for the elections and the state of our government in the United States."

During the event, they showed the video David Barton produced warning Christians that God will hold them responsible for how they vote as well as two videos produced by Jim Garlow who wanted to be there in person but could not attend. 

I've edited down the entire event to a short, two-minute clip featuring:

  • Cindy Jacobs declaring that the Holy Spirit had spoken to her and declared that if Latinos would vote "righteousness" and support candidates who oppose gay marriage and abortion, then God would see to it that they get comprehensive immigration reform;
  • Tom Schlueter getting on his knees and dipping the US flag to God, asking Him to break any elected leader who will not humble themselves before Him;
  • Randy Delp "praying in proxy for those about to be aborted," by screaming "Let Us Live!";
  • And finally Jacobs again declaring that thanks to their prayers, "God is going to do something supernatural in these elections"

The Warped Feminism of the Susan B. Anthony List

Although a number of media narratives describe 2010 election as revealing the rise of conservative woman, the "Awakening of the Conservative Woman," or the "Year of the Mama Grizzly," and what Sarah Palin calls “the emerging conservative, feminist identity,” it’s easy to forget that women have always played a prominent role in the conservative movement: Phyllis Schlafly, Clare Boothe Luce, and Beverly LaHaye, just to name a few.

But are women really running to embrace the rightwing agenda in 2010? Most polls show that the growing support for Republican candidates is a result of disproportionate backing from men, while Democrats still lead among women voters; Sarah Palin, the foremost Republican woman, is viewed favorably by an abysmally low 22% of Americans. But it is true that more and more women are running as Republicans for elected office, and the Religious Right has embraced the fiercely anti-choice Republican Senate candidates like Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell, Kelly Ayotte and Carly Fiorina. While it is difficult to say that women are turning to the GOP, at least one group is pushing the narrative that women will be at the center of the Right’s resurgence.

The Susan B. Anthony List was founded by Marjorie Dannenfelser and Jane Abraham, two women long-tied to Republican politics and anti-choice activism. Dannenfelser compared her fight against “the oligarchy of pro-choice women” to Susan B. Anthony’s campaign against second-class citizenship for women, and claims that Susan B. Anthony and the original women’s movement were all “strongly pro-life.”

Of course, real  historians and experts have thoroughly debunked Dannenfelser’s interpretation of women’s history: “Anthony spent no time on the politics of abortion. It was of no interest to her, despite living in a society (and a family) where women aborted unwanted pregnancies.” But the SBA List is now appropriating the legacy of Anthony and the women’s movement to serve their political agenda.

In 2010, SBA List has become a critical voice in the Religious Right in not only transforming the notion of “feminism” but also running extremely deceptive political ads. The group teamed up with the National Organization for Marriage to launch a $200,000 ad campaign against Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer targeted at the Latino community, claiming that Boxer opposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Naturally, PolitiFact rated their anti-Boxer ad to be “false” and “highly misleading,” as the Senator is one of the leading advocates of immigrant-rights in Washington.

Now, SBA List has just initiated a campaign targeting anti-choice Democrats who voted in favor of Health Care Reform by employing the immensely discredited and deceptive charge that the new law leads to “taxpayer funding of abortion.” Politico reports that the group plans to spend millions of dollars on television and radio advertisements, billboards, and a bus tour. SBA List has invested heavily in Carly Fiorina of California, New Hampshire GOP nominee Kelly Ayotte, a star of the anti-abortion rights movement, and said that the ultraconservative Nevada Republican Sharron Angle represents an “authentic, pro-life feminism that puts the ‘feminine’ back in the word” who would make “Susan B. Anthony proud.” Yes, the SBA List has such a warped view of feminism that they call the same Sharron Angle who described the situation of a girl impregnated by her father as “really [turning] a lemon situation into lemonade” an “authentic” feminist. Their other top candidate, State Rep. Jackie Walorski of Indiana who is running for the House, is a staunch Religious Right advocate who notoriously sunk hate-crimes legislation by trying to add “fetuses” as a protected class of citizens.

Sarah Palin has emerged as the symbolic head of SBA List, and the group founded the Team Sarah website to attract more women to their brand of “feminism.” “It’s only natural that women like these are responding to someone like Sarah Palin,” writes Dannenfelser, and “now millions of Americans, men and women, are going to the polls to make 2010 not only the Year of the Pro-Life Woman but the dawn of the Decade of Pro-Life Women.”

While SBA List’s view of feminism is different from the more openly anti-feminist groups like Eagle Forum and the Independent Women’s Forum, the groups essentially share the same reactionary ideas and principles. SBA List merely cloaks their anti-women’s rights agenda around a right-wing understanding of “feminism” and a misconstrued view of history.

Who Are You and What Have You Done With The Real Bryan Fischer?

When I saw this latest blog post on immigration from Bryan Fischer, I wondered just what had overcome him:

A number of high profile evangelicals - Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention and Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel among them - have come out in support of what Dr. Land calls “comprehensive immigration reform.”

Their support of President Obama’s plan has naturally resulted in front row seats at presidential speeches, visits to the White House, and testimony before Congress. Heady stuff.

I too am an evangelical, and have great respect and affection for Dr. Land and Mr. Staver. They are friends, acquaintances, colleagues and most of all, brothers in a shared faith ... The Founders were guided by a profound respect for the values and standards of the Judeo-Christian tradition. It was their guiding light then, and should be ours today.

It was so restrained and respectful:  where where the attacks on his opponents as "unpatriotic" and "unamerican"; where were the demands to see all Muslims thrown out of America; where were the attacks on gays as pedophiles and terrorists and Nazis; where were the warnings that God is cursing us with bear attacks for not following the Bible? 

In short, where was the Bryan Fischer we've come to know? 

It turns out that this Fischer was so different from the real Fischer because this Fischer was writing an op-ed in The Hill:

Isn't it amazing how the most radical voices on the Right manage to clean themselves up when the media comes calling? 

Of course, that raises the question of why the media keeps approaching these radical voices in the first place and offering them space in their publications.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Warren Throckmorton: A U.S. church and its "kill the gays" partner in Uganda.
  • Ben Dimiero: Drudge falsely claims Google is going to "pay gay employees more than straights."
  • Adam Serwer: Against Kagan, Conservatives Embrace Empathy Standard.
  • Think Progress: Sessions congratulates Lilly Ledbetter for law in her name that he opposed.
  • Sam Stein: Sharron Angle's Tea Party Agenda Gets A Drastic Makeover.
  • Alan Colmes: Eleven GOP Senators Who Backed Comprehensive Immigration Reform Now Don’t.
  • Will Bunch: "We are...Beck State!" Introducing Beck U. (seriously)

Obama Speaks on Immigration and ALIPAC Accuses Him of Treason, Seeking a North Amercian Union

Today, President Obama spoke at American University in Washington DC , delivering a speech on the need for comprehensive immigration reform ... so, of course, the early responses from anti-immigration groups like ALIPAC have been entirely reasonable

"We call on all candidates for Congress to clearly state their opposition to Comprehensive Immigration Reform Amnesty," said William Gheen of ALIPAC. "President Obama is committing a form of Treason against the American public by refusing to adequately enforce our existing immigration and border laws at the behest Global corporations and financial influences intent upon usurping the self-governance of the American public. Americans want immigration enforcement, instead of Obama's Amnesty and we expect voters to punish Amnesty supporters in the 2010 elections."

...

Obama's speech was made at American University, which is where Dr. Robert Pastor has advocated the formation of a North American Community, which has been called a North American Union by those opposed to the components of the plan that calls for a path to citizenship for illegal aliens. Obama also used the words 'Security and Prosperity' in his speech to convey his support for the Pastor plan, which was manifest during the Bush administration as the Security and Prosperity Partnership or SPP.

Staver et al Threaten to Withdraw Support For Immigration Reform Over Domestic Partners

Last month a handful of Religious Right leaders banded together and announced their support for a "just assimilation immigration policy" that contained a pathway to citizenship for those already in the country. 

The group, consisting of Mat Staver, Richard Land, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, Ken Blackwell, and Lou Engle, was trying to break away from the knee-jerk right-wing opposition to comprehensive immigration reform and the temptation to scream "AMNESTY!" any time a pathway to citizenship was proposed. 

Alan Colmes had Staver on his program to talk about this effort and, at one point, asked him why he was willing to show so much compassion for immigrants but so unwilling to show similar compassion to gays.  Staver responded that the immigration issue was complicated enough and didn't want to get into that conversation and go off track.  

Which is interesting, considering that today this same group of Religious Right activists issued a statement saying that any effort to cover "same-sex domestic partners" in immigration reform legislation "will cause religious conservatives to withdraw their support":

"A flawed immigration policy and the failure of the federal government to enforce existing immigration laws pose serious threats to our national security and domestic tranquility," said Mathew Staver, Founder & Chairman of Liberty Counsel. "Any potential consensus for key aspects of immigration may quickly be set back by partisan politics and special interests," Staver continued.

Senator Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) proposed immigration bill includes a provision for same-sex domestic partners. President Barack Obama supports the objective of this provision, despite the fact that inclusion of domestic partnerships will kill any immigration bill. The provision in Schumer’s bill, like the proposed Uniting American Families Act, will treat same-sex domestic partners like spouses in a marriage, thus making way for a foreign same-sex partner to become a legal citizen because of the relationship to a U.S. citizen. Despite the fact that homosexual groups estimate that the domestic partner provision will benefit only about 36,000 people, Sen. Schumer and President Obama still support the measure.

The undersigned question whether President Obama and Sen. Schumer are more interested in pandering to special interest groups than they are to the pressing needs of immigration. "Same-sex domestic partnerships will doom any effort for bipartisan support of immigration and will cause religious conservatives to withdraw their support," Staver warned. "If same-sex domestic partnerships are included, the immigration bill will have no chance of passing," Staver said. We call upon the President and Congress to secure our borders, enforce the law, and pass a Just Assimilation Immigration bill. We urge our elected leaders to put the interest of America first and stop the political posturing.

The following evangelical leaders affirm this statement on Immigration: Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; Dr. Richard Land, President of The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel; Lou Engle, Co-founder, The Call to Conscience, and more.

Staver Seeks Compassion for Immigrants (Gays, Not So Much)

On his program last evening, Alan Colmes interviewed Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver about the position staked out by a few Religious Right activists, including Richard Land, Ken Blackwell, and Lou Engle, calling for immigration reform legislation that secures the borders but also provides a pathway to citizenship for those who are already in the country.

Needless to say, this is a rather significant break for the historical right-wing response to any effort toward comprehensive immigration reform, which has tended to consist primarily of people on the Right yelling "AMNESTY!" whenever any such proposal has been floated.

And this is something which Staver obviously recognized, which is why he is insisting that the position for which they are advocating is not "amnesty" but rather an "earned pathway to citizenship" - the difference being that amnesty comes without no conditions or punishments, whereas an "earned pathway to citizenship" would carry with it possible fines, penalties, regulations, and legal obligations ... as if that technical distinction is going to stop his allies on the Right from screaming "AMNESTY!" 

On a related note, Colmes asked how his allies at the Freedom Federation were going to react to this stance, given that many members of the coalition are the very people who have spent the last several years screaming "AMNESTY!" every time this issue has come up, to which Staver responded that not everybody has to agree with his position, but insisting that there "is more consensus than difference" within the coalition on this issue.

Eventually, Colmes asked Staver why he was so compassionate when it came to the issue of immigration, but so much less compassionate when it comes to the issue of gays, which Staver really didn't want to answer, saying that he didn't want to get off topic ... but then basically said that, unlike gays, immigrants are not trying to change America and force their views on everyone else:

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