Former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff recently joined the board of the National Immigration Forum (NIF) - a leftist organization pushing for amnesty. In fact, the forum is one of the key organizations in the current amnesty-push. It was also a central partner in the shadowy Utah Compact operation that led to Utah's state amnesty bill, HB116.
Ali Noorani is the Executive Director of the organization.
In July of 2009, Mr. Noorani outlined a three part strategy to push for amnesty that consists of:
- Mobilize the base
- Persuade the middle
- Marginalize the opposition
Regarding the third of these areas, Mr. Noorani included this as an acceptable tactic:
"How do we make sure that the opposition is seen as driven by racist elements?"
How this strategy may be related to the shadowy Utah Compact operation is described in a recent post on this blog.
The astonishing idea that opponents to amnesty should be labelled racists is not a fluke.
Further evidence of this strategy comes from a secret amnesty strategy session held just a few weeks prior to the July 9, 2009 speech by Mr. Noorani.
This is how NumbersUSA's Jim Robb described the setting:
"The setting? The Marriott convention hotel in the fashionable Dupont Circle district of Washington, D.C. Date? June 15, 2009. Participants? A coalition of big-business oriented, pro-Open Borders dedicated groups, corporations, and lobbyists. Organizer? Tamar Jacoby and her newly-formed ImmigrationWorksUSA lobbying group.
The doors were closed. Reporters and members of the public barred. Confidence that their words were private and their plans secret loosened the tongues of most speakers. Embarrassing admissions were made. Several preposterous claims were forwarded. Numerous shameful methods and motivations admitted to"
An attorney who attended took detailed notes, which NumbersUSA published along with some commentary by Jim Robb.
The notes include a section for Ali Noorani of the National Immigration Forum, which attributes to him the following:
"We need 279 votes and that means we need Republicans. New immigrant voters affected 20-25 house races where voted pro-immigration. Talks about 20% are with us, 60 % are undecided or inactive, and 20% are against us. We need to work on those 60%. We will handle the 20% against by marginalizing them. CIS and NumbersUSA are funded by racists—so we constantly make them deal with that question, that they are funded by racists. Now the 60% we need to convince that CIR is in their best interests."
It is not completely clear who Mr. Noorani is referring to here - whether he means Americans in general or those serving in Congress. But from the context of the other statements, it seems he had Congress in mind.
The strategy, when applied to Congress, is to marginalize the 20% in Congress who oppose amnesty from the start.
How will that 20% be marginalized?
Part of the strategy outlined by Mr. Noorani, Mark Shurtleff's good friend and ally, appears to be to run around Congress tainting two of the largest and best respected anti-amnesty groups (CIS and NumbersUSA) with "racism" so that those in Congress who use information from these groups will be on the defensive and not be listened to by those in the middle 60%.
Two other participants in this secret strategy conference are worth noting.
One is Craig Regelbrugge of the American Nursery & Landscape Association. Mr. Regelbrugge is listed as a National Immigration Forum board member on the 2009 Impact Report of that organization.
The other is Grover Norquist.
Was the "racism" smear used in Utah?:
Read the following, which is the first paragraph of a Salt Lake Tribune story from December 2010 about Rep. Sandstrom's immigration enforcement bill:
"The legal affiliate of a designated "hate group" provided assistance for Rep. Stephen Sandstrom's enforcement-only Arizona-style immigration bill — a partnership that has raised a red flag for those who see the measure as racist."
The story appeared just weeks before the bill was to be considered by the Utah legislature.
I do not wish to leave the impression that David Montero, the author of the story, was colluding with anyone to write this story and I cannot say that Mr. Montero's article was meant to smear Rep. Sandstrom as part of any pre-conceived plan.
Even so, it is a harsh story that seems designed to drive support away from the bill through a similar mechanism as the tactic described by Ali Noorani of the National Immigration Forum.
Fast-forward to the current amnesty push:
The "call them racist" strategy has mutated.
It has become the "they're not really conservatives and they're trying to sneak in a radical philosophy" strategy.
From the Washington Post (2/13/13):
"A new battle has flared inside the Republican Party in recent days as supporters of more-liberal immigration laws wage a behind-the-scenes campaign to discredit the influential advocacy groups that have long powered the GOP’s hard-line stance on the issue."
Notice that the strategy is not to engage the arguments of those who oppose amnesty, but to "discredit" them.
Replacing "racism" with other ways to discredit has led some Republican heavy hitters to use the following:
"Now, Republicans pushing the party to rethink its approach to the issue are accusing those groups — Numbers USA, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) — of masquerading as conservative. Critics say the groups and some of their supporters are pressing an unorthodox agenda of strict population control that also has included backing for abortion, sterilization and other policies at odds with conservative ideology."
From the Washington Post article, it is difficult to determine what role, if any, is being played by Grover Norquist in this operation , but the following is suggestive:
"Another testy moment occurred recently at the weekly conservative strategy session hosted by Norquist when Lopez stood to present his arguments. Hans von Spakovsky, a former Justice Department official in the George W. Bush administration who now works at the conservative Heritage Foundation, spoke up to defend the credibility of the Center for Immigration Studies.
“I haven’t heard folks take on the substantive arguments CIS is making and saying why they’re wrong,” said von Spakovsky, who declined to discuss details of what happened in the off-the-record meeting. “Instead you just get these scurrilous attacks.”
The movement for amnesty in 2009 was promoting a smear strategy and it appears that the amnesty movement of 2013 is willing to smear as well.
The beginning point of the smear was a recently published article in the Human Life Review, in which Mr. Lopez, mentioned above, smeared the anti-amnesty groups. This was one National Review commentator's reaction:
"The HLR article concludes, “Organizations that would limit population growth through abortion, drugs, sterilization, and other methods are pursuing a radical anti-life agenda that undermines our country, freedom, prosperity, and morality” and calls for pro-lifers to denounce CIS and other groups. It presents zero evidence that CIS has promoted any of the methods mentioned."
Additional suggestive information about the potential connection between Grover Norquist and the smear is that Mr. Norquist sits on the board of the group that Mr. Lopez represents. The quote below is from a response to the attack by Mark Krikorian, who is the Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies:
"Both the SPLC and the current smear campaign started with the publication of a report that served as the focal point for other groups. The SPLC published a report designating FAIR a “hate group” (as it did later with the Family Research Council), just as Human Life Review published the above-mentioned article, written by one Mario Lopez of the Hispanic Leadership Fund (whose board includes Norquist, Chavez, Cardenas, the governor of Puerto Rico, former senator Mel Martinez, and others). Other organizations then pointed to the reports in follow-up op-eds, press releases, panel discussions, and closed-door meetings. The SPLC report was key to the National Council of La Raza’s “We Can Stop the Hate” campaign and to the establishment of America’s Voice as a “war room” for the open-borders Left. The Human Life Review article has served the same purpose at Norquist’s Wednesday Meeting and for presentations by Alfonso Aguilar of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles."
Notice how the strategy works: a key article or item is placed in the media and then follow-up commentary and reports build on it as the information begins to permeate into the public sphere.
Is Grover Norquist one of the driving forces behind this strategy?
That is not an easy question to answer. But other signals regarding Mr. Norquist are not reassuring. For example, his connections to Islamists is troubling - as is the fact that Pamela Geller, a well-known writer on the dangers of Islamism, was kept out of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this year and the conditions placed on Robert Spencer (not to criticize Norquist and another American Conservative Union board member for their Islamist ties) that led him to not appear this year to accept an award for his blog, jihadwatch.org, is also concerning. CPAC is a project of the American Conservative Union - on whose board sits Grover Norquist.
Mr. Norquist also participated in a conference in 2011 sponsored by the Arab American Institute - a conference where Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, also participated. Mr. Noorani was part of a workshop about defeating "hate" legislation. From the conference schedule:
"Defeating Hate Legislation: From Arizona Copycats to Sharia
In this workshop we will discuss the rampant emergence of hate legislation, including the Arizona copycat laws and Sharia bans now in nearly two dozen states across the country. We will examine why it is important for the Arab American community to be an integral partner and voice in the campaigns against these dangerous initiatives."
Mr. Noorani's organization also had Mr. Norquist participate in the October 2012 pro-amnesty conference: "Midwest Summit: Forging a New Consensus on Immigrants and America."
Mr. Norquist was the featured keynote speaker and was introduced by Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.
Apparently, he did a good enough job to be invited back this past February to speak at the Texas Summit of the "Bibles, Badges and Business" amnesty campaign (the National Immigration Forum's latest name for its amnesty push). A video of his somewhat rambling and disjointed speech is available at:
Indeed, the National Immigration Forum must really like Mr. Norquist as they posted another short video interview with him just a few days ago on their facebook page.
All this points to a good working relationship between the National Immigration Forum and Mr. Norquist.
But, going back to the February Texas speech for a moment:
In the video of his Texas speech, Mr. Norquist points to those he thinks halted immigration reform over the years. He begins by pointing to labor unions. At about 9:00 in the video, he makes the following statements:
"...the zero-population growth people, the guys who just don't like people at all, the population control folks, these are the guys who all live on the left, who set up some organizations, front groups, pretending to be on the right. But we're gonna need to have a united center-right to come up with reasonable pro-immigration policy because the heart and soul of the modern left is hostile to that."
It seems that this reference is to the smear initiated by the Human Life Review article. It has the same elements: population control people who don't want immigration and who set up front groups to masquerade as conservative groups. We only have two choices here.
This may have nothing to do with the smear strategy being employed - but it was Ali Noorani of the NIF, after all, who brought up the idea of smearing opponents on at least two different occasions in 2009 - one of which Mr. Norquist was present for.
So, I will leave it an open question as to whether or not Mr. Noorani or Mr. Norquist is part of a smear campaign against the principal organizations which believe that amnesty would not be good for the United States.
The many perspectives of those opposed to amnesty:
The strategy of smearing those who want immigration enforcement goes back a few years now.
The latest expression of it is to target, yet again, those groups which provide good information about immigration issues to both Congress and the public. This time with a new line of attack: that they are only front groups for a message inimical to conservative political philosophy.
The immigration issue itself cannot be said to be either a left or right one, but crosses all types of political boundaries and pulls concerned citizens into alliances to work for the best interests of the nation as a whole.
For example, in another response to the smear, James R. Edwards, Jr., of the Center for Immigration Studies, had this to say:
"As it happens, immigration is one of those issues on which individuals from all political persuasions and walks of life find themselves allied with people with whom they may not agree on much else.
The immigration control movement draws supporters motivated by fiscal concerns, economic concerns, environmental concerns, cultural concerns, security concerns, patriotic concerns, population concerns, and religious concerns, to name a few. Hence, one can marshal an argument and interpret the facts from all of these perspectives."
The problem with the current smear tactics is that the goal is to ensure that these diverse perspectives are not heard from, not considered, and are kept out of the public debate so as to produce a pro-amnesty consensus by working to make sure that those who raise objections are marginalized.
If immigration policies are to be created that serve the national interest, and not the more narrow interests of advocacy groups, then these voices, indeed the voice of the American people, need to be heard.