GOP opposes 'illegal immigration.' An online exchange.

I recently had an opportunity to read your article titled “Virginia gubernatorial race heats up” (by Emile Schepers) printed as an Online Extra in the Oct. 19 edition of the People’s Weekly World newspaper. In the article, you state that: “some [Virginia] GOP politicians have backed away from the anti-immigrant movement in embarrassment.”

I request that you name one Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates, or one Republican candidate for the office of governor, lieutenant governor, or attorney general that has backed away from a using a previously held position regarding ILLEGAL immigration.

Further, I request that you name one Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates, or one Republican candidate for the office of governor, lieutenant governor or attorney general that has participated in an “anti-immigrant” movement, because unless you possess information which is not properly documented in your article, I am only aware that Republicans candidates in Virginia’s 2005 elections are against illegal immigration and Republicans are in favor of legal immigration.

I ask that you to support your assertion in the aforementioned article.

Thanking you for the benefit of your forthcoming response, I am,

Wayne J. Ozmore Jr.

Chester VA





Emile Schepers replies:

In the first place, nobody is actually “in favor” of “illegal immigration,” and any politician, Republican or Democrat, who pronounced him or herself thus would be deranged. Not only are Democrats, liberals, progressives, socialists, communists, etc., not “in favor” of illegal immigration, but the same could be said of undocumented immigrants themselves, not to mention this author.

Illegal immigration is bad for immigrant workers with or without papers, and for all workers. It is only good for exploiters. But I, like the AFL-CIO, the Roman Catholic Church and many others, support the rights of all workers, and would like to see immigrant workers, with or without documents, get a break.

In other words, I do not think it is good that people are forced to immigrate illegally to survive, and would like to see undocumented immigrants already here be legalized, and a safe and legal mechanism for labor immigration in the future. As long as there are huge differences in living standards between neighboring countries, there will be labor migration, and those who feel pressured to migrate should not have to risk crossing deserts and rivers at night, and then put up with superexploitation, oppression and demagogic politicians using them as scapegoats at the other end.

In Virginia recently, the Republican gubernatorial candidate Kilgore and others tried to advance their political careers by howling about the menace of immigrants, blaming the “terrible” situation on the immigrants themselves instead of the employers who exploit them and the national politicians who allow this situation to exist. Kilgore made a particularly big deal about a proposed day laborer center in the town of Herndon about 25 miles west of Washington.

Though he aimed his main attack on undocumented immigrants, the panic-mongering involved inevitably raised hostility to all immigrants, and even to U.S.-born Latinos, because of the degree to which the propaganda creates stereotypes of evil, dirty and dangerous dark-skinned invaders. This is why it is irresponsible.

Kilgore attacked the Democratic candidate for governor (now governor-elect) Tim Kaine for supposedly being soft on illegal immigration. Kaine sidestepped the attack by saying that he does not want to second-guess the Herndon town officials, and anyway immigration policy is a responsibility of the federal government.

Other Republican politicians tried to get traction out of the immigration issue by trying to get the Legislature to declare Virginia an “immigration emergency area.” But in spite of the fact that the Republicans enjoy large majorities in both houses of the state Legislature, this idea appears to be going nowhere, perhaps because most Virginians simply do not see what the fuss is about. Living in northern Virginia, I have chatted with Republican residents about the immigration issue, and nary a one has thought the immigrants are harming the state.

One Republican state senator, Russell Potts, who ran against Kilgore and Kaine as an independent, specifically supported Democrat Kaine’s position on the issue, and other Republicans have just not joined Kilgore’s anti-immigrant campaign, though of course some have. But naturally, they don’t go around saying they are in favor of “illegal immigration.”

Just before the election, Kilgore appeared to drop the immigration issue and instead concentrate on the issue of the death penalty. He attacked Kaine for his past statements in favor of a moratorium on executions, and for having, as an attorney, defended persons accused of capital crimes. Kilgore’s TV ads on this subject were some of the worst “Willy Horton” attacks I have ever seen. And, predictably, Kilgore yelled about how Kaine is going to raise our taxes, which is always a good wedge issue anywhere. But it didn’t work. On Nov. 8, Kilgore went down to defeat.