The Challenged Pro-Immigration Forces
Something is clearly askew when unions, progressives, and liberals find themselves being credibly labeled as instruments for Corporate America’s cheap labor agenda.
Pro-immigration groups come to the widening immigration debate severely handicapped by their own associations, their apparent stance of defending “foreigners” against “natives,” and the difficulty they have in answering the charges that they are essentially an open borders lobby.
This charge is so powerful because it affirms the widely shared sense that a nation and its people have the right to control national borders. When immigration advocates respond to the open borders charge with arguments that don’t acknowledge the need for limits—whether to protect the U.S. workforce from oversupply, to ensure sustainable environmental development, to prevent an unsupportable demand for social services, or to manage the pace of social and cultural integration—they leave themselves vulnerable to restrictionist critiques that they don’t believe immigration flows should be controlled.
As a result, anti-immigration—and decidedly anti-immigrant—voices have succeeded in moving the immigration policy debate increasingly to the right.
Lou Dobbs’s “Broken Borders” campaign, complemented by the rhetoric of anti-immigration groups, taps the country’s deepening sense of economic insecurity and vulnerability to internal attacks. The backlash populism of the anti-immigration forces presents new challenges for those concerned about human rights, economic justice, and the rise of the politics of hate and fear.
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