Panelists at the Conservative Political Action Conference spoke Saturday about immigration measures that would uphold conservative values and attacked federal action against immigration enforcement state laws.
Alex Nowrasteh of the Competitive Enterprise Institute said conservatives and libertarians are unified like at no other time, while Obama and Congress are tearing at “the fabric of economic liberty.” Competitive Enterprise Institute funders include the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.
Nowrasteh said he opposes illegal immigration, but “the enemy is the welfare state.”
“Let’s put a wall around the welfare stare, not around our country,” he said.
He also spoke about the problems with different visas for foreign workers who want to come to the U.S., and exalted Reagan’s views on immigration as the best views for conservatives.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the co-author of Arizona and Alabama immigration enforcement laws and a supporter of Mitt Romney, said the government should enforce programs like E-Verify, a federal workforce authorization program.
Kobach said that he never imagined the Department of Justice would sue states for their immigration laws. He argued that Congress has passed law after law to call on states to help the federal government with immigration policy, saying it is the Obama administration that does not want to allow states to have laws like the ones that exist in Arizona and Alabama, which implement “attrition through enforcement” or what Romney recently called “self-deportation.”
Kobach said attrition is a rational enforcement of the law, that is neither mass deportation nor amnesty. He said Arizona was the first state that required E-Verify, and that the move has led tens of thousands of undocumented workers to self-deport. He added that in Alabama “in the first month after the [immigration] law was enforced, unemployment dropped 0.5 percent in one month.”
According to Kobach, the U.S. could be headed toward a national attrition through enforcement policy, because two GOP presidential candidates have said they support the strategy.
“If you want to create a job for an American citizen tomorrow, deport an illegal alien today,” Kobach concluded.
Robert Vandervoort — the executive director of Pro English, which seeks to make English the official language for government — said America is rooted in assimilation and multiculturalism, adding that America has always been a Judeo-Christian society, “a melting pot, but now we are Balkanizing.”
The Institution on Research and Education on Human Rights points out that Vandervoort “left out of his bio … that he was also the organizer of the white nationalist group, Chicagoland Friends of American Renaissance, while he lived in Illinois.” The Kanas City Star reported that “in a statement released Sunday to The Star, Vandervoort called the accusations ‘smears’ and ‘exaggerations,’ saying, ‘I have never been a member of any group that has advocated hate or violence.’”
Vandervoort said at the immigration panel that English is already the official language in 31 states, and argued that bilingual ballots are hurting the electoral process. He pointed out that all four GOP candidate support making English the official language of the United States.
U.S. Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, said that during his time in the state Legislature there were many efforts to stop illegal immigration but many busines organizations in construction, tourism and agriculture “would cry bloody murder when this legislation came because a lot of the labor these organizations use is not legal.”
Rivera said that in the Florida citrus fields, he does not see American-born citizens, only people born in other countries — mostly in Latin America. Rivera said he found many of these workers did not want to become U.S. citizens, which highlights the importance of a guest worker program as an important part of immigration reform.
“E-Verify is not a panacea,” Rivera said, explaining that a bill filed by Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, to mandate the federal workforce authorization program is having a hard time because it does not resolve labor issues for business organizations that currently employ undocumented immigrants.
Niger Innis of the Congress of Racial Equality blamed academic elites in Harvard University and Columbia University and the media for the lack of assimilation and Balkanization, but in the defense of conservative values “we must not alienate natural conservatives,” he said.