It took a while, but the Tea Party movement seems now to be in full cry against amnesty-style immigration reform. The cry isn’t unanimous but, according to this article in Politico, it’s overwhelming:
Activists are promising to spend the congressional recess reminding lawmakers who support the Gang of Eight legislation what the base is capable of. Think loud town halls, jammed phone lines and primary challenges down the road — echoes of Obamacare three years ago.
“The anger is more intense now than it was in 2010,” said Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation. “They are more upset about the amnesty bill than they were about Obamacare.”
That last statement sounds like an exaggeration. But no Republican legislators supported Obamacare, so there was no cause for anger against incumbent Republicans in 2010 on that score. Even so, the Tea Party took down several prominent Republican legislators over financial bail-out related issues.
I wouldn’t be surprised if many in the Tea Party are as upset about “bailing out” 11 million or more lawbreakers as they were about bailing out troubled financial institutions.
In any event, House Republicans have little incentive to find out. As Politico notes, as a result of the cynical creation of safe congressional districts for Black and Hispanic members, most Republican members represent districts with few Hispanics. And virtually all Republican members were elected in 2012, a year of extremely high minority turnout.
Perhaps the best evidence of Tea Party anger is the letter (rather cloying, I thought) that the movement’s former darling Marco Rubio recently wrote to “conservatives and Tea Party” activists.
The letter begins, “Over the last few days, I have received numerous emails and calls from conservatives and Tea Party activists from across the country regarding immigration.” That key words are “over the last few days.” They show that, although the outrage of the conservative base was slow to develop — in part, I think, because key Fox News shows initially didn’t much air the anti-amnesty side and, unlike Team Amnesty, that side lacked the resources to advertise on Fox — it has now arrived.
Congress might still enact amnesty-style reform. But I’m more optimistic now that it won’t than I was a week or two ago.