Monday, September 27, 2010

Tea Party divided over immigration

Tea Party activists who are debating whether to embrace “family values” issues in a year when the economy could make or break the Democrats and sweep their candidates to power are also divided over another hot-button issue — immigration. One leading Tea Party group has decided to work closely with Roy Beck’s Numbers USA, a well-known “restrictionist” lobby that wants to see immigration, both legal and illegal, reduced.  Together these groups are opposing passage of the DREAM Act, the stand-alone legislation that immigration reform advocates have rallied around as the prospects for passing a broader immigration bill have faded. However, two other key Tea Party groups, including FreedomWorks, whose co-founder, former House majority leader Dick Armey, supports expanded immigration, say they’ll stay out of the fight over the DREAM Act. Ideologically, support for immigration is thoroughly consistent with the Tea Party’s enthusiastic endorsement of the unfettered free market.  In fact, for years, libertarian, pro-free enterprise groups like the CATO Institute have joined business groups and immigration advocates in calling for less government regulation of immigration — a position that critics call an “open borders” policy. But many Tea Party activists believe that restoring the “rule of law” — and regaining control of the country’s borders — is also fundamental to the American ideal of freedom.  They don’t necessarily oppose rising immigration, especially legal immigration, but they are hostile to “amnesties” for illegal aliensthat appear to reward “lawbreakers.”...

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