I begin by extending my sympathies to all the people of Japan affected by the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami one year ago, on March 11, 2011, and especially to the people of Fukushima who were affected by the inexcusable, man made disaster at the nuclear power plant, which is still spewing radiation into the environment and may take decades to shut down. Fast moving tectonic plates have major consequences.
There has been another fast moving tectonic plate, the Republican party's mad rush to the extreme right. There is an excellent article on this in the March 12 New Yorker by Ryan Lizza. Nowhere has the Republican party been moving faster to the right than on immigration. It is hard to believe that only four years ago, the Republicans nominated a presidential candidate who had co-sponsored bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate (before changing his tune in the campaign).
Now, the Republican candidates have all been outdoing themselves to take the most extreme positions on immigration. Willard ("Mitt") Romney, still the leading candidate (barely, after last Tuesday), has welcomed the support of Kris Kobach, who has taken attempts to impose legal bigotry toward both immigrants and minority US citizens wishing to vote to new, and the lowest possible, levels.
Rick Perry campaigned with Sheriff Joe, and Herman Cain wanted to electrocute immigrants at the Mexican border. Rick Santorum wants to end the diversity lottery and family immigration (which he calls by the racist term "chain immigration"). Many Republicans want to end birthright citizenship for the US born children of mostly Hispanic and Asian immigrants. Michele Bachmann wanted every state to have an Arizona type anti-immigrant hate law (so does Willard).
Which tectonic plate caused this shift and is threatening to cause an earthquake and tsunami that may overwhelm our entire immigration system as we know it? My answer would be Citizens United and the huge wave of right wing billionaire money that that decision has released. The Republican alliance of billionaires and bigots has received a tremendous boost from this unlimited money.
What has been the response of the Democrats and progressives who should be speaking out the loudest against anti-immigrant hate in this campaign? It has been to treat the immigration issue as radioactive.
Roger Algase is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been practicing business immigration law in New York City for more than 30 years.