Well the debate is over and, if the Trump spectacle were not so dangerous, watching the Republicans devour each other in the shark tank would be fun. But America is more than a reality show, and the stakes are too high for pure enjoyment.
Wednesday night, in the "children's table" warm up debate, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal joined the anti-immigrant fray with the memorable statement that "immigration without assimilation is an invasion."
In fact, of course, the immigrant rights community has been organizing to make legal immigrants citizens for a long time.
Yesterday was Citizenship Day in the U.S. The day was commemorated by a White House announcement that it was launching a national, multilingual public awareness campaign to promote the rights, responsibilities and opportunities of citizenship among eligible lawful permanent residents, and to build a volunteer corps that will support them throughout the naturalization process. It's called the "Stand Stronger" Citizenship Awareness Campaign.
You'd think the "immigration without assimilation is an invasion" crowd would just love the push for legal permanent residents to become full fledged American citizens, but don't bet on it.
That's because citizens can vote.
And there is a growing movement brewing out there that is worth watching, enjoying, and actively supporting. That is the work being done in the immigrant communities through naturalization and voter registration that may teach the Republicans a lesson.
I have been working in the progressive movement a long time and I have many close friends in the immigrant rights movement. They are smart, tough, and they are street fighters. Usually their communities work hard and try to quietly raise their families. But if there is anything that gets them mad and moves them into action, it is seeing their hard working communities being bullied.
They are quite bi-partisan about it -- and have gone after Democrats on occasion.
But usually the bullies are on the Republican side of the fence. In 1994 California Governor Pete Wilson pushed for the anti-immigrant Proposition 187. The Mexican immigrant community first responded with marches, and then they proceeded to naturalize in massive numbers and turn out to vote. California, that had been Ronald Reagan Red for eight straight elections has been true-blue Democratic ever since.
When Rep. James Sensenbrenner passed the harshly anti-immigrant H.R. 187 late in 2005, he triggered the mega-marches in the spring of 2006, and a massive surge in naturalization and voter registration. Latino immigrants, who had voted 49 percent for George W. Bush in 2004, voted 75 percent for Barack Obama.
The Latino, Asian, and immigrant vote carried many swing states, such as Florida, North Carolina, Nevada, and Colorado for Obama, and helped to sweep in Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate as well. We enjoy ObamaCare as a result.
When Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney lurched to the Right on immigration issues in the primaries leading up to the 2012 elections he was lured into talking about the need for undocumented immigrants to "self-deport". That sound bite played in almost a continuous loop on Spanish language television, and Mitt Romney "self-deported" from the White House. Over 70 percent of the 15 million Asian and Latino voters sent a strong message by voting for President Obama.
For a while it looked like Republicans had learned their lesson, and were going to engage in constructive bi-partisan solutions. But the lure of rancid, right-wing populism was too great, and now the Republicans are tripping over themselves talking about invasions, fences on the border to both Mexico and Canada, and changing our U.S. Constitution to prevent babies born in the U.S. from ever being voters. Not to mention the racist bloviating by Donald Trump, calling Mexicans "rapists" and drug dealers.
These provocations have resulted in large immigrant demonstrations calling out Trump. Latinos protesting Trump were outside his speech in Dallas on Monday, next to the USS Iowa battleship on Tuesday in San Pedro, CA, and last night outside the Simi Valley, CA Ronald Reagan Library.
Just as interesting and perhaps more important, there were over 40 naturalization workshops being organized around the nation yesterday and this weekend by the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA). NPNA is an umbrella organization of well-known immigrant rights coalitions operating in 34 States.
Over the last three years they have assisted over 66,000 immigrants to naturalize or get the president's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals protection from deportation. And they have plans to greatly increase the pace of naturalization during the coming months and to begin promoting a "New American Dreams" platform for sensible immigrant integration.
The Latino and Asian vote was some 15 million in the 2012 elections, and under normal circumstances that number grows with each election. These are not normal circumstances. There are right now 9 million legal permanent residents (green card holders) who are eligible to apply to naturalize today. There are over 13 million unregistered Latinos and Asians who are eligible to vote.
If even 20 percent of the Green Card holders or unregistered voters are motivated by the Trump hate to get up, become citizens, and vote, then that changes the political demographics of this next election by adding an additional 4.4 million voters to the voting pool. In addition, we should not forget that close to 900,000 U.S. citizens immigrant families turn 18 every year and become eligible to vote. Nothing like insulting their parents to get them motivated.
The anger generated by the nativist rants coming from Donald Trump and the Republican party look like they are fueling a growing political revolution in immigrant communities. This is one reality show that will be fun to watch, and I am going to do my very best to help my friends to make it happen.