Today, the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is featuring two conflicting immigration panels in what seems like a blatantly duplicitous and opportunistic attempt to appeal to the nativist instincts of the anti-immigrant Right while simultaneously trying to grow the Republican base to include more Latinos.
One panel, entitled The Rise of Latino Conservatism, is sponsored by the American Principles Project’s (APP) Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles. “We represent a form of conservatism that is welcoming to people of all racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds,” explains Robert George, APP’s founder. According to George, his organization supports a “generous and welcoming immigration policy,” explaining that “a conservatism that is anti-Latino is not one that we want any part of.”
Perhaps unbeknownst to George, a screening of Border War: The Battle Over Illegal Immigration, a documentary from the self-described “conservative grass-roots advocacy organization” Citizens United is scheduled to take place just a few hours after his own CPAC panel. The movie has been panned by mainstream critics who claim that it leaves “little for a viewer to latch onto besides a transmitted sense of general anxiety and outrage.” The film, which calls for stricter policies and more enforcement, has also been described as a one-sided, offensive, negative portrayal of Mexicans.
Watch the trailer:
Former Arizona Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Hayworth, who is featured in the documentary, will introduce the film at the screening. In a background briefing released today by America’s Voice, Hayworth is identified as a “practitioner in the strategy to drive Latinos away from the Republican Party.” In the past, Hayworth has referred to previous generations of American immigrants as “illegal invaders” and equated his hard-line immigration stance to “standing up for our culture.” However, Hayworth’s views didn’t bode well with Arizona citizens who voted him out of office after he opposed a harsh bill that that would have made undocumented immigrants and anyone who helps them into felons because it didn’t do enough to “turn back the massive invasion of our country by illegal aliens.”
CPAC’s two-faced agenda ultimately serves as a microcosm of the larger internal debate dividing the conservative movement. While some conservatives continue preaching a hardline and unrealistic immigration position to secure right-wing votes, shrewd Republican leaders have warned that an anti-immigrant platform could render the Party obsolete as Latino and immigrant voters will one day outnumber the wingnuts.
On Saturday, CPAC will also host a panel called “Saving Freedom from Obama’s Immigration Plan” with Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), Linda Chavez, Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation, Dino Teppara of the Indian American Republican Council, and John Fund of the Wall Street Journal.