Our VoiceImmigration

Anti-Immigrant Groups Respond to Obama Immigration Speech


MJ Olahafa • Jul 09, 2010

As expected, the President’s immigration reform speech on July 1 was a pebble that produced a serious ripple effect on the anti-immigrant movement.

Mark Krikorian, executive director of Center for Immigration Studies, an organization founded by John Tanton, a well known white nationalist, was clearly not pleased with the message. He was especially irked by the President’s quote of a sonnet ‘The New Colossus’ by Emma Lazarus, a European immigrant who fled persecution generations earlier. Inspired by what she saw and heard in America, she wrote the lines that appear in a bronze plaque in the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.

“Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome”

According to Krikorian, however, there was no inspirational aspect to the speech at all. His exact words were “Nothing. Bupkes. Zilch.”

Still, he took the time out of a Cub Scouts’ camping trip to write an article on his website bashing Emma Lazarus.

Not to be outdone, Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC), a group that is a favorite of white supremacists, is launching a new website that will “help Americans track, spread and pass versions of Arizona’s immigration law in other states.” So far, 20 states are listed as possibilities for copycat laws.

Quite frankly, the anti-immigrant response has been as predictable as a broken record. But by far NumbersUSA’s response has been the most revolting. Its executive director, Roy Beck, clearly has a bone to pick with the President and wasn’t about to let this occasion pass, even if what he had to say was a slap in the face to American history.

Roy Beck, who admitted speaking at a national conference for the Council of Conservative Citizens, a blatantly racist organization and descendent of the Ku Klux Klan, wrote that President Obama “relayed the common false view of American history that immigration was somehow the main engine for U.S. progress.”

But this is not a matter of opinion; this is a widely accepted part of America’s historical record that Mr. Beck is apparently trying to revise. Luckily, the President was very clear in his speech and was able to get to the crux of the matter:

“Men and women across this country […] remind us that immigrants have always helped to build and defend this country -– and that being an American is not a matter of blood or birth.  It’s a matter of faith.  It’s a matter of fidelity to the shared values that we all hold so dear.  That’s what makes us unique.  That’s what makes us strong.  Anybody can help us write the next great chapter in our history.”

And he backed up his words by filing a lawsuit against the state of Arizona on July 6. This suit challenges the constitutionality of SB 1070, the ‘Papers, Please’ law that is supposed to go into effect on July 29. And in doing that, it may halt the progression of this law in all other states that have introduced – or are trying to introduce – a copycat of it. Undoubtedly, until the lawsuit is resolved, those states are going to think twice before pushing this legislation.

Now THAT should get the anti-immigrant movement hot under the collar.

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