Last Thursday, William Gheen of the immigration restrictionist group — Americans for Legal Immigration Reform PAC — spoke at a Houston Tea Party event on what he views as a “conspiracy” or “globalist” plan to “transfigure this country” through illegal immigration. In a video of his speech distributed by ALIPAC over the weekend, Gheen claims that politicians want to help “illegal aliens” because the two groups lie, cheat, and steal:
Now why do so many corrupt politicians want to help illegal immigrants? As of just this afternoon, I believe it’s because they have a lot in common with illegal aliens. These corrupt politicians and illegal aliens have a lot in common like lying, stealing, and taking everything that’s not bolted down from the American taxpayer. Lying, cheating, and stealing.
Americans are being systematically replaced in our jobs, in our schools, in our universities, and in our health care systems. And if Barack Obama and his team pass comprehensive amnesty and turn 15 million illegal aliens into voters, they’re gonna replace all of you at the ballot box and the borders of the United States will be irreparably destroyed. [...] It’s a bit of a conspiracy. It is a plan. Illegal immigration is not just something that is happening randomly, it is part of a plan to transfigure this country. It’s a globalist plan that I call grand theft nation. [...] It’s time for constitution to be restored and all states shall be protected from invasion.
While Gheen’s audience appeared receptive, polling shows that the tea party movement as a whole doesn’t place much emphasis on the immigration issue. A recently released set of national surveys by the Winston Group found that those who associate with the tea party movement are primarily motivated by economic and fiscal concerns and that cracking down on immigration ranks low on their priority list, as it does for most Americans. Meanwhile, FreedomWorks chairman and tea party strategist Dick Armey has outright opposed letting nativists under the tea party “umbrella” and has suggested that doing so would be poisonous to the movement. Rather than calling undocumented immigrants liars and thiefs, Armey has claimed he believes they are “good people” just “trying to feed their babies.”
According to Armey’s criteria, the tea party umbrella may not be big enough for Gheen. The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that ALIPAC “is supported by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, recently designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, and allied with various Minuteman factions.” The American Defamation League accuses ALIPAC of promoting “virulent anti- Hispanic and anti-immigrant rhetoric” and “adopting the tactics and rhetoric of racist groups and moving it into the mainstream.” Given this information, Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) reelection campaign called on challenger and former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) to disavow ALIPAC’s endorsement on two separate occasions.
Back in March, one of Gheen’s colleagues — Roy Beck of NumbersUSA — asked his organization’s members to “leave off the Hispanic-Latino stuff” when talking about immigration to skeptical tea party activists and urged followers to translate their anti-immigrant views to fit the tea party anti-government, anti-tax narrative. A recent study showed legalizing undocumented immigrants through comprehensive immigration reform would generate $4.5 to $5.4 billion in additional net tax revenue within three years.