Backfire in Bakersfield; Amnesty Antics Turn Off McCarthy

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

January 3, 2014

As the congressional comprehensive immigration reform debate raged on in 2013, CAPS launched a targeted media campaign in Bakersfield last August. The advertising urged House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy to consider the plight of unemployed Americans, especially those in his Kern Country district. During the period that the ads aired, Kern County unemployment was about 11 percent. Watch and listen to the CAPS ads here.

Amnesty advocates, however, took a less diplomatic approach. Instead of laying out the facts in a straightforward manner with the hope of promoting an open and honest discussion of an amnesty for 12-20 million illegal immigrants, as CAPS did, they protested loudly outside of McCarthy’s office and demanded – yes, demanded – that he get on board with the Senate bill which passed earlier in June. [“McCarthy Unreceptive to Immigration Reform Tactics,” by John Cox, The Bakersfield Californian, December 26, 2013]

The aggressive and excessively vocal approach of the advocates not only didn’t influence McCarthy, it turned him off. According to a Wall Street Journal story, McCarthy said that the demonstrators' tactics were counterproductive.

The ill-advised ploys of Illegal aliens and their supporters included a day-long incident when 13 women occupied McCarthy’s Bakersfield office and refused to leave until he met with them.

Protestors also set up an altar outside of McCarthy’s district headquarters, demonstrated in front of his house and accosted him while he was grocery shopping. In early December, the UFW staged an 11-day sit-in campaign at McCarthy's office. Stating that the disruptions made it impossible to conduct their daily business, staff kept the doors locked. [“Immigration-Bill Pressure Backfires,” by Laura Meckler, Wall Street Journal, December 25, 2013]

Advocates may think they’re clever. To McCarthy, however, their in-your-face style represents harassment. McCarthy concluded that the protests were not “productive” and that:

If they continue their tactics, it's less likely they're helpful in solving the problem. They are less likely to have my ear.

Protests, marches, fasts, sit-ins and forced arrests are old hat and have failed for more than a decade dating back to the 2003 colossally ineffective Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride which insultingly used the 1960s Civil Rights movement as its template.

From where I sit, it looks like the immigration lobby has been giving bad advice to its gullible audience. It’s too bad for those who listened, but good news for common sense immigration proponents as we start 2014.


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