Support grows for advocates of immigrants

Freedom New Mexico

As we allow government to cast ever-widening nets over all aspects of our lives, real life-and-death issues — health care, crime and drug use, to name just a few — become little more than political playthings tossed about inside the Washington beltway and state capitals across the country.

So forgive us for not getting too worked up over a recent political announcement about the success of immigration advocates, even though it is positive news.

Two political action committees that support more reasonable immigration policies report that currently they are raising more money than those that seek more restrictions on accepting new U.S. residents.

According to The Associated Press, Immigrants’ List and ImmigrationPAC, which were formed by immigration lawyers and other immigrant advocates, have raised a combined $100,000 this election cycle. In this political age that’s not much, but it’s still more than anti-immigration and pro-enforcement groups, which have reported few contributions.

Foundations also are donating millions of dollars to nonprofit organizations that advocate for and work with immigrants, although that money can’t be used for political campaigns, AP reported last week.

The difference in contributions, of course, is being spun as a sign of a possible shift in public attitudes toward greater acceptance of immigrants.

That might be the case, but we’ll have to see what happens over the next few months as the 2010 political season heats up; all seats in the House of Representatives are up for grabs and incumbents will soon return to their districts for the holiday recess and to launch their re-election campaigns. That should spur increased PAC activity and donations to them.

Two of the strongest immigration opponents in Congress, Republicans Duncan Hunter of California and Tom Tancredo of Colorado, left their House seats to seek the presidency in 2008. However, Hunter was replaced by his son, and Tancredo is said to be considering making a run for either the U.S. Senate or his state’s governor’s position, and he continues to fight for immigration restrictions. He recently filed a ballot initiative that, if passed, would force all Colorado employers to utilize the federal E-Verify to check all new employees’ immigration status, even though the program is said to be filled with errors.

Other nativist Congress members, including Republicans Steve King of Iowa, Peter King of New York and Democrat Heath Shuler of North Carolina, remain in office. They could bring immigration back to the front burner as their respective re-election campaigns heat up.

While the two pro-immigration PACs are single-issue organizations, it’s likely many of those who support restrictionist policies are conservatives who currently are more focused on other matters, such as nationalized health care and the various bailout programs. The current distractions don’t necessarily mean they have abandoned their efforts to restrict immigration.

President Obama and the Democratic leadership have expressed greater tolerance for immigrants and have promised legislation that will bring about better immigration policies. Whenever that happens, we can expect the virulent opposition of the past to once again raise its ugly head.

In the meantime, it’s good to see that those supporting immigration are receiving support, and are working to get the word out regarding their efforts. When the immigration debate heats up, their efforts — and whatever funding they have at their disposal — will have to be put to good use.

Our country should seek to enact humane immigration policies simply because it’s the right thing to do, and follows our core assertion that all people are born equal and are entitled to the same basic rights. Unfortunately, it will have to be just another of many political pinballs, subject to fundraising and public spin.