Extremists in the anti-immigrant movement have become key mouthpieces in the race-based campaign against President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor. They have dropped the pretense that their opposition to immigration is grounded in high-minded principles. Instead, they are revealing an ugliness that is as blatant as it is offensive.
Just yesterday, former Rep. Tom Tancredo attacked Judge Sotomayor for being a member of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), a mainstream civil rights organization with a 40 year old history, by saying it’s like a “Latino KKK.” William Gheen, President of Americans for Legal Immigration Reform, a hard-line anti-immigrant group based in North Carolina, recently said, “The Supreme Court is no place for brown or Hispanic supremacists like Sonia Sotomayor,” and Mark Krikorian, Director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a nativist think tank, mocked Judge Sotomayor’s pronunciation of her own name.
Despite their blatantly race-based critique of Sotomayor, Republican leaders in the House and Senate have yet to distance themselves from their anti-immigrant friends. The silence is deafening.
According to Paco Fabián of America’s Voice, “NCLR is the leading Latino group in the country. They work with both parties, they fight for the educational and social advancement of Latino families, and through their tireless efforts to expand opportunity, have made America a better place. Yet, Tom Tancredo, a former member of Congress, a former leader of the hard line House Immigration Reform Caucus, a former Presidential candidate and a prospective gubernatorial candidate attacks NCLR and Judge Sotomayor as if they were some sort of radical group? Nothing could be further from the truth. And no Republican leader denounces his statements? No wonder Latino voters are deserting the Republican Party in droves.
It is time for Congressional Republicans to declare themselves. What say you, Senator McConnell? You are the leading Republican in the Senate. What say you, Congressman Boehner? You are the leading Republican in the House of Representatives. The spotlight is on. You have encouraged and let the hard liners define your party for too long. Isn’t it time to distance yourselves from the very people who are driving the party over the cliff with the fastest growing group of voters in America?”