Another Perspective

Defending David Brat on Immigration

He won because GOP leadership is wobbly.

By 6.23.14

Credit: Dave Brat for Congress

David Brat’s stunning primary victory has happily killed off the prospect of immigration reform this year, and so the pro-immigration folks are busily trying to tell us that immigration had nothing to do with it. What nonsense!

David is not a one-issue candidate, to be sure. On the public debt crisis and crony capitalism he’s right on the money. But more than anything it was the immigration issue that brought him into the race and propelled him to victory. I say this as one whose friends encouraged David to run, and who spoke with him about the primary back in December. 

The 1965 Immigration Act has weakened our economy and transformed American politics by bringing an immense number of new Democrats to the voting booths. But for them, Obama would have lost the last two presidential elections. It’s no wonder that Democrats are so heavily invested in immigration, and that conservative fear the prospect of immigration “reform” designed to add yet more Democrats to the voting rolls.

What conservatives fear, more than anything, is a deal over immigration that would offer a path to citizenship for the many millions of illegal aliens, and doom the Republican Party to the fringes of American political life for generations. For Republican this should be a no-brainer. That leaders such as Eric Cantor haven’t figured this out is what propelled David to victory.

That’s not to say that it’s impossible to imagine a kind of reform that would bring to America immigrants who would add greatly to the country, both economically and socially. Other countries do it. But the point is that the current Republican leadership is wobbly on the issue, and the sense that they can’t be trusted explains why David won.

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About the Author

F.H. Buckley is a Foundation Professor at George Mason School of Law and the author of The Way Back: Restoring the Promise of America in an Age of Diminishing Expectations (forthcoming April 2016, Encounter Books).