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The Reporters: US mid-terms

Jamie Coomarasamy

A call to arms?


If the main consequence of the Foley furore is to drain the energy from the Republicans' socially conservative Republican base and increase the number of what the influential conservative strategist, Paul Weyrich, has called "embarrassed Republicans", the party may be casting around for other issues to get the voters to the polls.

protestors.jpgCould illegal immigration play that role? It was about eighteen months ago that a man called Tim Donnelly predicted it would - as we stood together on Arizona's border with Mexico. He is - or, at least, was a "minuteman" one of those private citizens (dubbed "vigilantes" by President Bush, much to their anger), who decided to take border protection into their own hands.

He was convinced that the swelling numbers of illegal immigrants would swell the ranks of Republican voters this November. I remember his parting words. "Immigration", he said in a confident tone, "will be the next abortion." Idle talk - or reality?

Judging from a few recent trips to different states, the issue is resonating far more loudly across the country, than the amount of national media coverage being given to it would suggest. By derailing the president's call for a comprehensive immigration bill - and, instead, pushing through new border fence legislation - House Republicans essentially won the pre-election argument. But will that be enough for them to win the election?

Jamie Coomarasamy is a Washington correspondent for BBC News.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 11:11 PM on 09 Oct 2006,
  • Lois Kaness wrote:

The, "swelling numbers of illegal immigrants," are indeed mobilizing the Republican party. Republican mobilization is, in turn, evoking the reactions of both liberals and political moderates.

I've come to realize the Republican party as mis-directed advocates of extreme solutions. I am convinced, and poltical polls are supporting my conviction, the American public is tired of extremes.

Unable to find the Arab you wish to punish? The Republican solution is kill innocents in an Arab nation. Any Arab country will do.

Too many illegal Mexican immigrants? Build a wall between the USA and Mexico.

Extreme solutions, like extreme political views, are easy. Extreme solutions also tend to backfire.

In order to win elections, the Republican leadership postured their party as the party of the morally sound and righteous Christian; they catered to religious extremists.

Gay Republicans were to stay in the closet; financial indiscretions were to be hidden; no one was supposed to know of the behind-closed-doors influence peddling.

Enron's financial dealings came to light, Abramoff's political peddling was disclosed, Foley's pedophelia forced him out of the closet and the religious right is threatning to desert the Republican party.

I look forward to the November elections in the hope that we will, at long last, elect leaders who will take the time to carve out lasting solutions to the problems we face. Leaders who realized that rapid reaction isn't the best action.

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  • 2.
  • At 12:13 AM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • David Somuah wrote:

The problem with immigration is it's a double-edged sword. It has the potential to drive republican voters to the polls, but it also has the potential to drive hispanics to vote against anti-immigration republicans. The republicans had 45% of the hispanic vote in 2004. They will want to hold on to that as that represents more than 5% of the total national vote. Raising the immigration issue also alienates another republican constituency. Business owners who believe that immigrant labor is needed. One of the reasons the republican party has played it very carefully with the immigration issue is it's potential to divide the republican party support rather than unite it.

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  • 3.
  • At 05:37 AM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • David wrote:

A recent gallup poll ranked immigration 5th of the main issues that worry US voters.
The war in Iraq was 1 and fighting terrorism was either 2.

Interestingly enough the economy was 3th...and immigration a booring 5th.

http://www.galluppoll.com/content/?ci=24391

So, why would something 5th on peoples minds get them to the polls?

David

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  • 4.
  • At 06:20 AM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • Lucia Contreras wrote:

I feel that the issue of immigration
is very important. It is not possible for the USA to pretend that
"ëverybody" can come to this country without going to the necessary steps in order to obtain legal status before coming to the USA.

It is important to remember that immigration is not against Latinos. It is about respecting the laws of the USA. It is not possible to absorb so many undocumented people when our schools can't provide educational free benefits for all the children that come to the USA with many needs that require a lot of services that cost a lot of money.
The sad thing is to hear the complaints from undocumented people that decided to come illegally but once they are here, the tend to hate the USA and its people.

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  • 5.
  • At 05:10 PM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • John B wrote:

Immigration is a red herring as those focused on that issue are not going to run over to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. The "business" with Mark Foley has the potential to offend soccer moms and that group does swing elections.

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  • 6.
  • At 05:47 PM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • Ann R. wrote:

Actually, it's strange that masses of sane average working Americans aren't considering leaving GOP-fascist America for more morally progressive countries where elected officials cared more about providing for the needs of their citizens than about lining their own pockets.

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  • 7.
  • At 08:14 PM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • J wrote:

Being a Texan who sees illegals daily immigration is my #1 concern. We have enough criminals who are US Citizens and I am sick of constantly seeing illegals committing multiple crimes within my state.

I'm for the Wall. If I build a house and have a termite problem, I would first try to seperate the source of the termites from my house, before I start ripping the carpets out. I also wouldn't give 3/4's of the house to the termites because it might cost me too much to exterminate them all.

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  • 8.
  • At 10:53 PM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • Ann R wrote:

Those who worry about jobs being stolen from hardworking Americans should be looking at the entities called Corporations that have been claiming rights as a *person* in order to protect themselves from responsibility while they ship jobs overseas, kill small business ownership by squelching locally owned businesses and skipping town with the profits, pollute the air and water but shift cleanup bills to taxpayers, cut pay for their bottom of the barrel jobs, and stick bankrupt municipalities with emergency healthcare costs. The Bush administration has given these corporate raiders the green light to screw American workers and hide profits in offshore banks. Ever hear of Kenny Boy?

The entire noise about immigration is a manufactured smokescreen designed to obscure the truth about the ongoing rape and pillage of America by amoral Republican supported corporate profiteers. That’s what the GOP calls “protecting the American People.”

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  • 9.
  • At 02:08 PM on 31 Oct 2006,
  • E wrote:

I'm an european student and I'm interested in your initiative. In Europe, the same trouble happened with Spanish and Portuguese immigrants which went through French border. Today, this problem don't exist.Indeed, with European Union Spain and Portugal have become riches countries like England or France. So, the solution in America is the ALENA (the association between Canada, USA and Mexico)and not a wall.(I'm apologise for my english)

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  • 10.
  • At 12:31 AM on 01 Nov 2006,
  • David wrote:

The wall idea is a gimmick to distract people from the truth- The Republicans like illegal immigrants because they can be hired at sub-standard wages, which helps hold down the wages of the American working class as well.
If they really wanted to stop illegal immigration they could use the "wall" money as a reward fund to help find the people in the USA who are hiring the illegals, and prosecute them. If the illegals knew no one could hire them, the flow would diminish to a trickle.
Building the wall just provides the illusion that something is being done, to appease the masses.

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