Liberal politicians incessantly demagogue the issue of illegal immigration by offering a false choice between amnesty and a police style roundup of 12 million aliens. Obama believes that without a pathway to citizenship, even a moat with alligators can't preempt illegal immigration. They always forget the third option; enforcing the laws on the books and not offering them hospitality that isn't afforded to legal Americans.
Last month, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley offered such a taxpayer funded courtesy by signing a bill granting in-state tuition benefits at state universities to illegal aliens residing in Maryland. Maryland taxpayers already spend $1.7 billion annually on illegal aliens, one of the highest per capita costs in the country. It is no wonder why Maryland has become a magnet for those whom O'Malley affectionately calls "new Americans."
While such cloddish policy decisions are par for the course in wacko Maryland, the Tea Party response was quite anomalous. Maryland is not known for its strong Tea Party presence. But against all odds, Maryland conservatives have successfully passed the first hurdle in securing a ballot referendum to strike down the tuition law.
When conservative state delegates Neil Parrott and Pat McDonough announced their inchoate plans for a petition drive against the tuition bill, the opposition and the local media dismissed the effort as futile. After all, how could a few right wing delegates with no money or formal organization obtain the requisite 55,736 signatures (with properly spelled middle names) in the bluest of blue states? This attitude from liberals, and too many Republicans, is a quintessential example of the dissonance between the elites and 'we the people' regarding illegal immigration.
According to Maryland law, we were required to obtain one third of the signatures, 18,579, by May 31, with the remaining signatures due by June 30. Delegate Neil Parrott worked indefatigably to establish an online petition drive at mdpetitions.com. Additionally, a small cadre of volunteers went door to door and picketed social events in an effort to obtain enough signatures. Moreover, they diligently sorted through all of the names to ensure that each signature would pass muster with the fastidious eyes of the board of elections and the dozens of lawyers from the criminal CASA de Maryland organization.
Ultimately, an organic groundswell of grassroots support, in conjunction with the inexorable passion and dedication of the volunteers, made the petition drive a stunning success. Delegate Parrott reported yesterday that he received over 60,000 signatures, more than three times the threshold required for the first round. The opposition now realizes that we will easily have well over 56,000 signatures by the June 30th deadline, enough to compensate for the names that will be "litigated out" of the petition by the left-wing lawyers.
The opposition is also keenly aware that once this bill is placed on the ballot in 2012, it will go down to a stunning defeat - in Maryland, of all places. It would be the first successful attempt to overturn a state law since 1974. Either way, if the requisite signatures are certified by July, the law will be suspended until the 2012 ballot referendum.
A spokesman for CASA de Maryland, a group that has sought to intimidate petition organizers, conceded that the number of signatures is "very impressive” and underscores that they must "do a better job during the month of June explaining about the benefits” of the law. In other words, they will flood the airwaves with propaganda commercials, partially funded by Maryland taxpayers.
The salient observation that was noted by the petition organizers was the fact that so many Democrats signed the petition, and even offered to circulate it in their communities. I bumped into many hard-core liberals who support every big government program imaginable, yet categorically rebuffed the whole concept of offering benefits to illegals. "What part of 'illegal' do the politicians not understand?" was a common refrain from numerous Democrat supporters. A Democrat state Senator from Baltimore County even volunteered to circulate the petition.
Republicans must learn from the Maryland experience that illegal immigration is not a wedge issue for Republicans. Quite the contrary, it is a wedge issue that divides commonsense Democrats (to the extent that they exist) from the party elites. All too often, the supercilious wizards of smart in our own party lament how immigration is a losing issue for us. Well, according to Gallup, Maryland is the most Democrat state in the country, yet a pro-illegal bill is headed to defeat. No amount of spin can ameliorate the negative reaction that people intuitively garner towards lawbreakers.
Last week, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz denounced Republicans for believing illegal immigration "should in fact be a crime:"
Congresswoman Schultz might want to take a short drive to Maryland and discover that it isn't only Republicans who think illegal immigration is a crime; it is all (non-party hack) Americans.
Cross-posted to Red Meat Conservative