Last Sunday the New York Times went after the whole immigration restriction movement with a page 1 attack article that went on to fill an entire inside page. Massively long, and mostly aimed at knocking early immigration restriction leader John Tanton for some private letters he wrote decades ago, the article also spends a good deal of ink in discussing NumbersUSA and our founder Roy Beck.
I generally don't bother you with all the attacks the mainstream press sends our way. But this one is a gem. While it does attack John Tanton, it manages to shower NumbersUSA with compliments while doing so. I thought you'd be interested in reading some of them. The New York Times are the indented ones in blue.
After naming NumbersUSA and two other groups, the Times stated that we are . . .
. . . one of the most powerful grass-roots forces in politics. The immigration-control movement surged to new influence in last fall's elections and now holds near veto power over efforts to legalize any of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States.
You probably already know that the New York Times is one of our most bitter foes. They have singled us out for attack in several editorials. Our flaw in their eyes? We want immigration to go down and to enforce current law, and they want immigration to go way up while rewarding those who break the law.
Considering that the Times is one of our most dedicated opponents, the article shows NumbersUSA in a surprisingly complimentary light. In fact, it almost seems like reporter Jason DeParle didn't have his whole heart in the attack.
DeParle's article notes that NumbersUSA . . .
. . . doomed President George W. Bush's legalization plan four years ago by overwhelming Congress with protest calls.
In the pamphlet-long discussion of John Tanton, the Times describes how none of the forces on our side in the first years had enjoyed much success in moving Congress. However, says DeParle:
The man who most changed that was Roy Beck . . .
It goes on to say:
Mr. Beck mobilized a database of supporters with what was then a novel technology, the Internet fax. Prompted by a well-timed alert, his followers could register outrage with a few mouse clicks -- or call. They did, in attention-grabbing numbers.
Much of the New York Times article is spent reviewing old quotes from John Tanton. Yet the keeps coming back to NumbersUSA and our growing impact:
Numbers USA showed its force in 2002 when Republican leaders of the House backed a bill that would have allowed some illegal immigrants to remain in the United States while seeking legal status. Numbers USA set the phones on fire, and a majority of Republicans opposed it.
"I had people come up to me on the floor of the House saying, 'O.K., O.K., call off the dogs' -- meaning NumbersUSA," said former Representative Tom Tancredo, a Colorado Republican who fought the bill.
The big war broke out in 2007, after Mr. Bush proposed a systemic overhaul including a path to citizenship for most illegal immigrants. Supporters said it would free millions of people from fear and exploitation; opponents argued that it would reward lawbreakers and encourage more illegal immigration.
DeParle reports that during the 2007 battle FAIR (the Federation for American Immigration Reform) got the topic discussed on radio talk shows, and, the article continues:
NumbersUSA jammed the Capitol's phones.
Their success became the stuff of lore. They "lit up the switchboard for weeks," said Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, explaining his decision to oppose the bill. "And to every one of them, I say today: 'Your voice was heard.'"
For supporters of granting legal status, the vote was a total rout. "Let's face it, they kicked our butt," said Frank Sharry, who led a business-immigrant group for the bill.
The Times article then explains that business and open borders groups, such as the National Council of La Raza and the National Immigration Forum, became desperate after their 2007 defeat. They realized they had to change the subject. As long as the subject was the rule of law, appropriate levels of immigration, etc., NumbersUSA would always win.
So, the other side embarked upon a coordinated and massive campaign to label us and every other voice in the restriction movement as anti-immigrant, motivated by racial concerns. They hoped to stop all reporters from quoting us and all Members of Congress from listening to us.
The Times article makes it clear that the smear campaign failed in part because -- as the Times' three-month investigation discovered -- there is nothing in NumbersUSA's 16-year history to justify any suggestions of racism.
Although the Times story does not state this, tens of millions of dollars were raised from left-wing foundations to finance the smear campaign. Today, the open borders lobby has in essence given up debating NumbersUSA or our ideas. They seem to be helpless to fight our influence in Congress. Again, the Times:
Mr. Sharry acknowledges that he used to warn colleagues that charges of racism would backfire. But he said the 2007 debate convinced him of his opponents' ill will. "I've gone from saying they're part of the process to seeing them as extremists who want to expel millions of people," he said. While they started with a liberal gloss, "their juice became culturally conservative Republicans who don't like brown people."
Despite such attacks, the groups remain influential.
DeParle reports that Georgia legislators passed legislation last week cracking down on illegal immigration in that state even more. State Rep. Matt Ramsey . . .
. . . credited Numbers USA with helping to mobilize local supporters. "That grass-roots program they have is incredibly effective," he said.
Well, there's my report on the New York Times article. You can see that though it needlessly allowed the other side's baseless smears of the rest of the movement to be repeated, it comes across as more of a bouquet thrown at us.
According to the Times: We are fair-minded. We are massively influential. Our methods are effective.
We have 1.1 million member activists, and we have plenty of support on Capitol Hill to get the job done -- if we can just keep the operation in good health financially. We have to keep the faxes flowing. We have to keep our lobbyists working.
This summer, we have real hope that the House of Representatives will pass E-Verify and other critical bills. We are no longer on the defense -- the other side is! This is the best time to invest in us financially -- when we are in position to gain ground!
JIM ROBB is Vice President of Operations for NumbersUSA