Tea Party Divided Over Immigration

Stewart Lawrence, Daily Caller (Washington, D.C.), September 23, 2010

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One leading Tea Party group has decided to work closely with Roy Beck’s Numbers USA, a well-known “restrictionist” lobby that wants to see immigration, both legal and illegal, reduced. Together these groups are opposing passage of the DREAM Act, the stand-alone legislation that immigration reform advocates have rallied around as the prospects for passing a broader immigration bill have faded.

However, two other key Tea Party groups, including FreedomWorks, whose co-founder, former House majority leader Dick Armey, supports expanded immigration, say they’ll stay out of the fight over the DREAM Act.

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But many Tea Party activists believe that restoring the “rule of law”–and regaining control of the country’s borders–is also fundamental to the American ideal of freedom. They don’t necessarily oppose rising immigration, especially legal immigration, but they are hostile to “amnesties” for illegal aliens that appear to reward “lawbreakers.”

Ironically, anti-immigration Tea Partiers can cite the Founding Fathers in defense of their views. Ben Franklin spoke out frequently about the dangers of unregulated German immigration, which he felt would dilute the American “ideal”–much as nativists today oppose unrestricted Mexican immigration, fearing it will undermine mainstream culture, including English as the nation’s primary language.

So far, there doesn’t appear to be a consistent Tea Party view on immigration, and with no single national leader, the movement is under no pressure–at least not yet–to develop one. {snip}

In Philadelphia, a Tea Party Immigration Coalition (TPIC) formed in early July to oppose the city’s policy of providing “sanctuary” to illegal aliens. The group reportedly included local trade unions and a key state legislator who supports legal immigration, but opposes illegal immigration on the grounds that it hurts unemployed Philadelphia workers.

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{snip} In some locales, Tea Party leaders have broadly supported the Arizona crackdown and other expanded police enforcement measures but have drawn the line if the rights of legal residents and US citizens are threatened–as a recent federal court judge found when she blocked key provisions of the Arizona law.

And some Tea Party activists are staunchly opposed to the introduction of a national ID card as a way of weeding out illegal aliens from the workplace. {snip}

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