This is the second installment in a special seven-part series "A Brief History of Nativism: Anti-Immigrant Bigotry in the American Past", providing an overview of these major movements, as well as the accompanying shifts in American immigration policy and their consequences. The first installment, "Colonial Dreams and Independent Reactions" is available here.
A Brief History of Nativism
Part II: Knowing Nothing in Antebellum America
A Brief History of Nativism: Anti-Immigrant Bigotry in the American Past
Often thought of as a nation of immigrants, at times the United States has also been a nation of nativists. Nativism, the fear of and hostility toward immigrants or other perceived "aliens," has been a mainstay of the American political landscape, even if xenophobic agitating has at times receded. At times, the U.S has been a refuge for the "homeless, tempest-tost." At other times, Americans have lashed out against newcomers, and made them the victims of mob violence, discriminatory legislation, and populist demagoguery. Both inclusiveness and nativism date to the founding of the country.
Conventional wisdom suggests there are two distinct elements of modern campaigns: the “ground game,” the ability of campaigns to organize and mobilize supporters to get out and engage in the fight; and the “air war,” the money poured into advertising and other passive means of persuading voters to support a campaign. Finding the elusive balance between the two is said to be the key to winning.
In this latest round in battle over comprehensive immigration reform, the anti-immigrant establishment has largely conceded the ground game. One reason: their base of support evaporated.
On May Day 2013 thousands of people turned out onto the streets in hundreds of cities to march for comprehensive immigration reform. With the process partially underway, IREHR takes a look at five different things human rights supporters should be keeping an eye on as the debate moves forward.
1. Tea Partiers Lead the Counter-Mobilization
In contrast to the seeming “consensus” view that immigration reform is a fait accompli, anti-immigrant forces still think they can kill the bill. Unlike the 2005-2007 battles over comprehensive immigration reform, however, there isn’t a unified opposition lead by a close-knit network of anti-immigrant groups. This time, the situation is much more fluid and complicated.
Efforts to gut the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of birthright citizenship gained additional support in Congress this week. Three new co-sponsors signed onto Rep. Steve King's (IA-4) bill, H.R.140, the "Birthright Citizenship Act of 2013."
H.R. 140 now has twenty-three co-sponsors. Paul Broun (GA-1), Sam Graves (MO-6), and Tom Graves (GA-14) signed on as co-sponsors on February 26.