Yesterday, I wrote a piece that said the Tea Party would likely have a fit about a gay, undocumented Latino running for Student Body President of the state’s largest public university. A number of Tea Partiers, bloggers and commentators jumped on the article and defended the movement against accusations of racism, claiming that they stand for small government, individual rights and freedom. That may be true, but they welcomed bigots and homophobes into their midst and spent more time bashing Obama than cleaning their own house.
The first inkling of the Tea Party emerged in 2007 when the right-flank of the GOP killed a bi-partisan immigration reform bill heralded by Republican President George W. Bush. They made “amnesty” the issue. Much of the rhetoric back then smacked of racism but it scared the bejeezus out of mainstream Republicans who folded under pressure.
Seven years later, we still haven’t dealt with the issue and the GOP is still scared of their extremist base. As a result we have almost 12 million undocumented immigrants, many of whom have been here since they were kids. But the Tea Party won’t even let those people who have grown up here and know no other home benefit from the opportunities America offers.
As far as I can tell, their only answer is deportation. So let’s put this in context. If we put all the undocumented immigrants into one place, they would be the seventh largest state in the nation behind Pennsylvania. But they are not in one place. They are scattered across the country.
To successfully round them up would require a suspension of civil liberties for millions, maybe tens of millions, of American citizens. It would demand an army of quasi-law enforcement personnel that would cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. And it eliminate a valuable source of labor for employers that would cause prices (food prices in particular) to rise dramatically.
And all this from the people who demand less government, lower taxes and more freedom. The Tea Party can claim that racism and xenophobia are not the issues, but they are only fooling themselves. They’ve wrapped themselves in the flag to protect themselves from foreigners and they’re holding the Republican Party hostage along the way.