Examples of August townhalls that fail to do anything about immigration reform (amnesty)

One of the best ways to block comprehensive immigration reform (aka amnesty, aka any form of mass legalization) is for its opponents to use the Question Authority plan at this month's townhalls.

Unfortunately for the U.S., those who have the ability to organize efforts based on that plan are doing things that are much less effective. In fact, they're walking into a trap.

At the August townhalls, all or almost all amnesty opponents will end up not doing much against amnesty and in some cases they might even assist it. Constituents will ask weak questions that politicians can easily answer, or they'll launch into rants that politicians will use to segue into their talking points. In some cases, those constituents will say questionable things that will be put to great use by the Huffington Post, ThinkProgress, and other amnesty supporters.

Want to do something about all that? Encourage those who have organizing abilities to back the Question Authority plan rather than the much less effective current alternatives.

This post will collect reports of townhalls that failed to have an impact on amnesty. It's obvious that doing things the normal way doesn't work, hopefully this post will drive that point home.

WHAT: Dick Durbin and Tom Harkin immigration rally
WHEN: Aug 2
WHERE: Ames, Iowa (in the district of Steve King)
VIDEO: None found

From [1]:

The rally was in King's district, but most who showed up were not on King's side... A small group of King supporters did protest outside the rally. Retired journalist Larry Clayton held a banner saying, "Secure the Borders First." ..."I believe that the amnesty bill, which is what I call it, or the Dream Act or whatever, makes a mockery out of our current immigration system," Clayton said.

From [2]:

Republicans Larry and Bianca DeRocher drove more than two hours from their home in Onawa to be in Ames for a counter-rally, holding up signs in support of King. They think King's comments last month about immigrant drug mules with cantaloupe-sized calves were "right on the money." ..."He just says what needs to be said," Larry DeRocher said. "He stands up to the idiots in D.C. ... I love the guy." ...But at this event, the 260 reform advocates far outnumbered the 20 opponents... ...One of the counter-ralliers, Larry Clayton of Ankeny, listened to the other side, but said Durbin's description of the legislation doesn't change his mind. He doesn't think 40,000 border patrol agents would be enough... "Unless we seal the border, it won't work. ... We ought to have military down on the Mexican border," Clayton said. "That would totally eliminate illegal immigration."

Clayton and the DeRochers have a right to their opinions and it's good that they expressed them. However, neither are going to have any impact on amnesty. Apparently Clayton was inside the event, so it would have at least been a start if he'd tried to ask Durbin a tough question designed to make him look bad. Durbin lied at the event, saying of those covered by amnesty that "there will be no government benefits coming their way for 10 years". It would have been absurdly easy for someone to point out how that's misleading (see #5), but obviously either no one did it or they're keeping it very quiet. There are other things wrong with what Clayton and DeRocher said, but those are unrelated to the main issue: none of the protesters had any effect on amnesty despite having the opportunity. Durbin is extremely vulnerable on the anti-American DREAM Act, but those who protested can't take advantage of it.

WHAT: Karen Bass immigration event
WHEN: July 27
WHERE: Los Angeles
VIDEO: peekURL.com/vKY5X9E and peekurl.com/vDbbnyt

The link to the LATimes report is in the post about Seema Mehta of the Los Angeles Times. On both videos Rep. Karen Bass is asked weak questions. On the first video she indicates she has differences with the proposed "Jamiel's Law". Asking questions about those differences should have been the starting point. On the second video, someone else asks a question that's just a statement.

WHAT: Sheila Jackson Lee immigration event
WHEN: July 29
WHERE: Houston
VIDEO: peekurl.com/vDHqyCt and peekurl.com/vRfqAzc

Both videos are by Lee Stranahan of Breitbart News and show advocates making statements in support of comprehensive immigration reform. Stranahan writes ( peekurl . com/zMRhEpL ):

For anyone concerned about the specter of "comprehensive" immigration reform becoming legal reality, the event provided two cold, hard slaps in the face.

The first, and expected smack was how the one-sided event completely ignored the very real problems the nation faces regarding immigration and jobs. The second, more stinging blow came with the realization that the anti-amnesty calvary didn't arrive; while hundreds of pro-reform voices filled Houston's City Hall, only three adults showed up to make the case against the deeply flawed, nation-altering comprehensive immigration reform proposal.

...The town hall event was scheduled at an inconvenient time for most working people--on a Monday afternoon, from 2pm to 4pm. Still, there were rumors that people from the local and active Tea Party groups in Houston were going to make a showing. That simply didn't happen.

Admitting failure is a tiny baby step forward for someone in the Tea Parties sphere, but as discussed in the introduction to this post simply having Teapartiers show up isn't going to work. Experienced questioners who know how to engage politicians in debate have to ask tough questions, and there's no known evidence that anyone in the Teaparties sphere is capable of that. See bad questions and this 2009 example featuring Jackson-Lee.

WHAT: Rep. Andy Harris townhall
WHEN: August 7 or 8
WHERE: Maryland
VIDEO: peekURL.com/vABe7Ks

The title at Mediaite is "GOP Town Hall Explodes With Anger: ‘We’re Losing The Country’ So Quit Being ‘Nice Guys’!" and that about sums it up. There are no immigration questions on the video, but the video does illustrate the ineffective tactics of those in the Tea Parties sphere. Instead of asking tough questions, those featured on the video just rant and rave. That's good therapy for them, but it's not likely to change Harris' behavior.

WHAT: Brad Sherman townhall
WHEN: late August
WHERE: Los Angeles (?)
VIDEO: peekurl.com/vYX48mY

The video features Sherman giving a stock speech supporting amnesty and spouting stock talking points. What happens at the same time is something I've seen too many times to count: loud Tea Parties types shout things out and generally act like little kids. They're unable to join together and nominate the smartest among them to ask real questions, instead they do things that will have absolutely no effect on what Sherman does. They can't even see the league Sherman is in, but they don't realize it.

WHAT: Steve Pearce townhall
WHEN: Aug. 21
WHERE: Deming, New Mexico
VIDEO: peekurl.com/vEPwGx9 (from the NYT; has no audience questions)

Pearce supports mass legalization of illegal aliens, he just doesn't want to give them citizenship. That means he's open to being discredited in the same way that Tamar Jacoby was. At least from the NYT report (link), that doesn't appear to be happening (bolding added):

The questions came in both English and Spanish and frequently returned to the topic of immigration from both ends of the spectrum. “What are you people going to do about immigration?” one man demanded. “It’s getting out of hand, you can tell that right here tonight.”

Other attendees, many of whom belonged to the Border Network for Human Rights, an immigration advocacy and human rights organization, worried aloud about the “militarization” of the border and said immigrants without documents lived in constant fear, with families being split up through deportations.

Mr. Pearce answered their questions for 90 minutes, calmly giving similar versions of the same response. “I agree that it is not good for people to live in fear,” he said. “We need to solve the problem. I’m saying just solve the problem by giving guest worker permits to those people who would work.”

[1] npr . org/2013/08/03/208497883/

[2] usatoday . com/story/news/nation/2013/08/02/