Cantor Campaigning As Anti-Amnesty Champion

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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The campaign manager for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor isn’t backing down from their new campaign-trail flyer lauding Cantor for fighting against President Barack Obama’s amnesty bill.

“He stopped the bill when it came out of the Senate,” Ray Allen, Cantor’s campaign manager, told The Daily Caller.

The defender-against-amnesty claim appeared in flyers sent to GOP primary voters near Richmond, Va., two weeks before the vote on June 10. “Conservative Republican Eric Cantor is stopping the Obama [and Sen. Harry] Reid plan to give illegal aliens amnesty,” says one of the flyers.

But his critics, including primary challenger and economist Dave Brat, are hitting back: Cantor’s claim has prompted hoots of contempt, some anger and some Bronx cheers from the many activists who have fought the massive push by progressives, media outlets and business groups to double the current inflow of 2 million immigrants and guest workers each year.

“7th district votes are not going to fall for these outright lies that Brat is selling,” Allen said.

But the flyers “suggest that Eric Cantor is scared,” said Zachary Werrell, Brat’s campaign manager.

Cantor said “immigration reform” was a top priority for 2013, said Werrell, but now “he’s realizing that voters in his district are overwhelmingly against it, and all of a sudden, he’s saying he’s against amnesty.”

“Is there any limit to the degree of lying that may be deemed off limits during the campaign?” said an article by Daniel Horowitz, policy director for The Madison Project.

“It is perfidious that these people use their money collected from pro-amnesty special interests to paint themselves as anti-amnesty so they can win re-election and pass amnesty,” said Horowitz, in an article headlined “Establishment Campaign Strategy: Shameless, Cowardly, and Perfidious.”

Brat is using the controversy to boost his upstart campaign, which threaten to embarrass or even defeat Cantor.

Either result would likely deter other GOP politicians from secretly backing any future immigration increases.

Brat has scheduled a press conference in central Richmond on Wednesday to slam Cantor. The event likely will get extra coverage, because Democratic Rep. Luis Gutiérrez is holding a rally at the same place to pressure Cantor into passing an amnesty for 12 million or more illegals now living in the United States. Roughly 12 million Americans turn 18 during the course of three years.

Last July, Cantor joined Gutiérrez on a three-day tour intended to promote passage of a major immigration increase.

In a late Tuesday press release, Brat slammed Cantor, saying he “represents large corporations, who want to replace Virginia workers with low-wage foreign labor.”

“Cantor’s big money donors are now helping him pretend that he’s against amnesty — even though he’s been the No. 1 force in the House cheerleading amnesty and demanding citizenship for illegals,” read Brat’s statement.

That’s a lie, said Allen.  Brat knows that Cantor blocked Obama’s amnesty, Allen continued.

Brat also knows that Cantor has blocked other immigration proposals, such as a bill to enlist illegals immigrants while Americans soldiers are forcibly retired, or a bill that would allow illegal immigrants to win amnesty and citizenship for any young children they bring into the country, he said.

Those proposals are “something that reasonable people should be able to discus and reach consensus on without leaping from there to a blanket amnesty,” Allen said.

For more than a year, Cantor and Speaker of the House John Boehner have zigzagged on immigration.

They’ve repeatedly praised proposals for changing immigration rules, earning plaudits from progressives and reporters. Their praise has also won them donations from business groups and Wall Street investors, whose revenues are boosted by the addition of new consumers and job-seekers.

In numerous statements over the last year, Cantor has backed portions of the Senate immigration plan. For example, he has repeatedly said that children bought illegally into the country by their parents should be given citizenship. Critics say that would invite further child smuggling, and bolster their case by citing reports about the massive rise in the number of Latino children trying to cross the borders since 2012. “We should not be holding kids liable for the acts of their parents,” Cantor told a columnist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch in December.

In November 2012, Cantor called for a reform that would allow companies to hire foreign professionals in place of American professionals. “Unfortunately, current immigration policies are preventing American businesses from hiring foreign students who earn advanced degrees… from our best universities,” he said in a video on his website. Critics counter that if the guest-worker bill is enacted, it would drive down the salaries of U.S. graduates, just as the salaries of blue-collar workers have been held down by automation, outsourcing and large-scale immigration since the early 2000s.

But Cantor and Boehner have also blocked Obama’s amnesty push from getting a vote in the House.

That has frustrated the media-backed alliance of progressives and executives, but it has pleased tens of millions of GOP supporters who are worried that wages are already kept down by current immigration levels. The business groups back Obama’s amnesty demand, in part because he will only support the business executives if they back his push to get the 12 million-plus Democratic-leaning illegals into the voting booth by 2030.

The Cantor and Boehner zigzags have left many Washington insiders doubtful that Congress will pass an immigration rewrite this year —but they have left many GOP supporters worried that the two legislators will push an amnesty and foreign worker bill through Congress after they’ve been re-elected.

So far, neither Cantor nor Boehner have tried to build trust and support on immigration issues by making a political case against businesses’ demand for a bigger labor supply.

But if they did make that case, they’d be met with a storm of protest from progressives, journalists and donors.

Cantor’s new pitch came the same weekend that European voters whacked pro-immigration establishment parties. In the United Kingdom, for example, a center-right party that opposes mass immigration attracted millions of voters from the established left-wing and right-wing parties, and won 24 of 73 open seats in the European parliament.

Cantor’s new campaign pitch appeared shortly after yet another poll showed strong public opposition to the the increased immigration sought by Obama’s progressive allies, and by business groups that support Democrats and Republicans.

The poll of 1,354 adults by Associated Press-GfK polling showed that 46 percent of Americans disapprove of Obama’s immigration policies, while only 22 percent approved of his policies. Eight-four percent of Americans say illegal immigration is a serious problem — including 53 percent who say it is very or extremely serious — while only 13 percent say it is “not too serious,” or not serious at all, said the poll.

The poll, moreover, provided respondents with no information about the scale of legal immigration, which now allows entry by almost 2 million immigrants and guest-workers per year.

Since 2000, roughly 13 million immigrants and 10 million guest-workers have legally entered the country — while high unemployment and flat wages have remained an issue.

The Senate’s “comprehensive immigration reform” bill backed by Obama and business would double the annual inflow to 4 million legal immigrants and guest-workers.

If GOP leaders let it become law, it would make the annual inflow roughly equal to the number of Americans who turn 18 each year, and likely lower wages by boosting the labor supply.

“We have a broken labor market that has not recovered after seven years, and the big idea is to import more labor — are you kidding me?” asked Werrell, Brat’s manager. “If you have two brains cells to rub together, it’s pretty obvious that it won’t work,” he said.

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