Sunday, April 09, 2006

CONLAMIC Watch: On immigration? Still pimping for the extreme right

Back in September, we launched "CONLAMIC Watch" and pointed out how the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders (CONLAMIC) was "Pimping for Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist & John Roberts." We had first encountered CONLAMIC back in 2004 when they were pimping for President Bush on the issue of marriage rights for gays at a rally in the Bronx.

In any case, one of the most fascinating things happening about the immigration debate is to see fissures occur between conservative Hispanic organizations who are progressive on immigration reform and conservative Republican leadership who see legalization of undocumented immigrants as a conservative litmus test. Unfortunately, when it comes to CONLAMIC, the split has been with themselves as they have abandonded their supposed religious morals to go against immigrants in this country (and flip flopped against their own stand on the issue in the process!).

On August 10th of 2005, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution had already noted a potential divide in an article titled "Illegal Immigration Polarizes Christians" which mentions that, at the time, the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders (CONLAMIC), was fighting for reform in immigration rights and providing driver's liscences to undocumented immigrants, setting off alarms in conservative evangelical denominations opposed to immigration. Furthermore, in a Spanish language article titled "Latino religious leaders repudiate Cornyn-Kyl immigration proposal" ( - July 26, 2005) which quotes and EFE article, CONLAMIC President Miguel Rivera goes on record calling the restrictive immigration proposal proposed by (Republicans) Cornyn and Kyl as "absurd, anti-immigrant and anti-family," adding that "we consider it a slap in the face against the dignity of Latino workers."

He closed the statement by saying that CONLAMIC stood behind the Kennedy-McCain proposal on immigration "because it offers a solution that benefits the economy, the undocumented community and family reunification" (funny, I can't find an English language account of these comments).

Well, that was then. On Wednesday, CONLAMIC, who have spent the last eight years standing side by side to some of the most conservative political leaders in the nation while expressing almost rapturous adoration for those on the extreme right, turned its back on the Kennedy-McCain bill at the exact moment when they could have had the most influence: On the eve of a now aborted compromise that would have brought immigration status to hundreds of the people they purport to represent.

In a statement released jointly by the right-wing Latino Coalition, the Hispanic Business Roundtable and CONLAMIC the following was said: "While there are very strong elements in the McCain-Kennedy legislation, some of the more lenient provisions on access to citizenship in their bill have fueled the fire of the more radical elements and polarized the current debate" (Bill Frist would have been proud!)

The alternative?: "We urge the Senate to build on the consensus of border security and seek compromise language on the Temporary Worker Program similar to that proposed by Senators Cornyn and Kyl."

By Friday, the Latino Coalition, just as big a pimp as CONLAMIC, was parroting Republican mantra that the Democrats were to blame for the failure of the compromise (hm, what's a non profit agency lobbying for passage of specific bills and against elected representatives?).

One of the difficulties with "CONLAMIC Watch" is that most mainstream media have yet to focus on the ties between these organizations and the Republican party and information is not necessarily readily available unless you browse through some religious websites or Spanish-language media. Still, we try to do what we can do with as little information as is out there.

CONLAMIC, shame on you.

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