Diverse GOP Voices Emphasize Immigrant Contributions

Former-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

Even as the Republican National Committee adopted a platform advocating strict immigration enforcement, several influential party leaders are pushing for more openness. The Texas Republican Party managed to slip a new guest worker program into the platform, and party leaders from Tea Party Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice emphasized the important contributions immigrants make to American society.

Thanks to the Texas GOP delegates, the Republican platform now calls for “a legal and reliable source of foreign labor where needed through a new guest worker program.” Secretary Rice pushed the party further. “We must continue to welcome the world’s most ambitious people to be a part of us,” she said. “More than at any other time in history—the ability to mobilize the creativity and ambition of human beings forms the foundation of greatness… People have come here from all over because they believed in our creed – of opportunity and limitless horizons.”

Sen. Paul repeatedly emphasized much the same view. “In Bowling Green, Kentucky, the Taing family owns the Great American Donut shop. Their family fled war-torn Cambodia to come to this country,” he said. “The Taings work long hours. Mrs. Taing told us that the family works through the night to make doughnuts. The Taing children have become valedictorians and National Merit Scholars. The Taings from Cambodia are an American success story.” Later, the senator referred to his own great-grandfather’s immigration to the U.S. and to a pair of Vietnamese brothers who now own and manage large businesses.

The senator concluded with a letter from an American sailor, John Mooney, who picked up 65 Vietnamese refugees in 1982. “As they approached the ship, they were all waving and trying as best they could say, ‘Hello America sailor! Hello Freedom man!’ ” recounted Mooney. “It really makes one proud and glad to be an American. It reminds us all of what America has always been—a place a man or woman can come for freedom.”

Unfortunately, the sailor’s comment goes too far. For many years, America was a place where anyone could come for freedom, but today, most people who want to come and participate in America’s freedom cannot. Since 1924, at great cost to American society, only those with family connections or those willing to wait many years at great financial cost may enter. Today, the freedom of association and contract that made America such a desirable place to build and grow a business is limited to those born within its boundaries.

America’s traditional openness was replaced with isolationism and protectionism advocated by radical environmentalists like Sierra Club founder John Muir and big union bosses like the American Federation of Labor’s William Green. Their arguments reformulated by today’s radical environmentalists and population control advocates like the Federation for American Immigration Reform, NumbersUSA, and Center for Immigration Studies have no more validity, morality, or economic sense than they did 90 years ago. They’re just the repackaged arguments of decades-old progressives.

“Let me tell you who we conservatives are—we love people,” Rush Limbaugh told Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) attendees in 2009. “When we see a group of people,” he continued, “we see human beings—what we see is potential…. We believe [any] person can be the best he or she wants to be if certain things are just removed from their path like onerous taxes, regulations and too much government.” Conservatives are beginning to recognize that this pro-life message applies as much to immigrants as it does to native-born Americans: regardless of your place of birth, you are valuable.