GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s stunning defeat in a primary challenge in his VA home district is being blamed on Cantor’s supposed support for immigration reform. But Cantor was never a backer of comprehensive reform and for years he drew high praise from anti-immigrant groups like NumbersUSA, which notes on its website that Cantor “leans toward less immigration, less population growth, less foreign labor.” Cantor has consistently opposed a lottery to add an additional 50,000 visas each year, and he’s consistently supported tougher sanctions against employers who hire unauthorized immigrants, more border patrol agents, building a fence along the Mexican border and virtually every other tough anti-illegal immigration measure that’s been offered. But for anti-immigration extremists 90% support is never enough.
Cantor faced a little-known economics professor from a small liberal arts college in suburban Richmond, Dave Brat. Brat was easily outspent by Cantor, but Brat had something Cantor didn’t–the megaphone of talk radio hosts like Laura Ingraham, whose opposition to any immigration reform borders on obsession. Ingraham and other talk show hosts treated Cantor’s record as if he were in cahoots with the National Council of La Raza pushing for open borders and blanket amnesty, despite the facts.
House Republicans will likely take the lesson from the Cantor defeat that they must toe the line and oppose any reform of our immigration laws, but the real lesson to be learned is that there is no appeasing extremists, who will gladly distort the record if they think it furthers their cause.