NumbersUSA, an advocacy group dedicated solely to reducing all immigration in the United States, has a soul-searching question for the Republican presidential hopefuls: Where’s the love?
At a conservative conference last week organized by immigration hardliner Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, NumbersUSA was shocked to discover that none of the several prospective GOP candidates present (Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, even Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.) wanted to talk about immigration.
That leaves NumbersUSA lobbyists scratching their heads. Who to rally behind? “We’re not like a lot of organizations. We don’t have any other issue,” said NumbersUSA President Roy Beck.
It’s a tough call. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty earns the best ranking from NumbersUSA at a C-plus. Barbour, Gingrich, and even Sarah Palin all get D-minuses. Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee get Ds. (President Obama gets a newly invented grade of F-minus because he openly supports a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.)
Beck says Republican candidates could easily rally the GOP troops on a “reduce immigration” platform simply by pointing to the flagging unemployment rate and arguing that immigrants are taking America’s jobs. If House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, can wield that stick, why can’t the White House wannabes?
“A couple of them actually say we need to bring more people in the United States. It’s not surprising. They’re just mouthing what the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants them to,” Beck said.
Alas. Business wins out again. But just because NumbersUSA feels a little out in the cold doesn’t mean they’re going to back down on their rankings. “You have to earn a certain number of points to get up to something” in NumbersUSA’s perspective, Beck said. “It’s not good enough to just not be bad.”
This article appears in the April 1, 2011 edition of National Journal Daily PM Update.