Numbers USA highlights their members getting snowed by politicians, failing to stop amnesty

Numbers USA and I both want to scuttle comprehensive immigration reform, aka amnesty. Where we disagree is on the best way to do that.

My main plan to stop amnesty is Question Authority. Under that plan, experienced people would engage politicians in debate with the goal of showing how those politicians mislead and promote bad policies. The questioners would be chosen based on their ability to intellectually engage politicians and would be equipped with questions designed to prevent the tricks that politicians use. That's how to hold politicians accountable and force them to offer better policies. Showing a politician wrong about a specific policy will very likely keep that politician from continuing to promote that same policy, and will very likely have an effect on other politicians.

The NumbersUSA approach is - as the state of amnesty shows - much less effective. Their plans include sending FAXes, and also encouraging regular people to attend townhalls and let politicians know what they think. Unfortunately, there are dozens of examples of regular citizens asking politicians weak questions or just ranting. That doesn't do any good: it doesn't hold politicians accountable, it just lets them off the hook. Until a specific policy is shown to be faulty, politicians will keep repeating it and offering the same policy. Only if a very large number of people oppose the policy will they change; if people simply indicate their opposition, politicians will play the percentages game.

Not only is NumbersUSA doing things that aren't too effective, but they're highlighting the failures of their members to put a dent in amnesty.

The page "August Recess Town Hall Stories from NumbersUSA Activists" [1] by Melanie Oubre (no known Twitter) lists several quotes from their activists, and none of them will do much against amnesty.

For instance, this quote from a Numbers USA activist in Texas:

I did attend a town hall meeting with Rep. Mike Conaway here in Mineral Wells last Friday. I told him I had read that Rep. Boehner was going to pass amnesty. He said it would never happen, that the Gang of Eight bill was unconstitutional because it levies taxes, and that all such bills must originate in the House. He said that he does not believe illegal aliens should get a path to citizenship, nor should they get government benefits. I was very encouraged by his positions on these topics.

I'm not familiar with Conaway's position and I don't have a transcript of his remarks, but assuming that's an accurate recount of his remarks you could drive a truck through the loopholes in what he said. Conaway could still support some form of amnesty, as long as it didn't levy taxes or if it originated in the House. There's very little difference in the ultimate effect of an amnesty that includes that "path" and one that doesn't include it. Conaway's remarks don't preclude him supporting some form of mass legalization, and any form of mass legalization will become a path to citizenship (see the What will the other side do? section). Regarding benefits, see #5, and note also that, no matter what a plan does at the start, the Democrats and the far-left will work night and day to weaken it.

In other words, there's a good chance that the Numbers USA activist got tricked: Conaway issues a loophole-ridden statement, and she bought it. Not only that, but Numbers USA isn't taking steps to make sure other of their activists aren't similarly tricked.

Obviously, that's not how I would do things. If Conaway said something like that to me, I'd choose one part and work it, with the goal of finding out what exactly he supports. If he supports a policy that won't work, I'd ask him questions designed to show how he's promoting bad policy.

Conaway - a George W Bush crony - was a CPA and CFO of GWB's Ardbusto Energy. To put it nicely, expecting regular citizens to show him wrong would be like pitting a Pop Warner team against a Tim Tebow-led team.

To show someone like Conaway wrong, you need someone who's familiar with asking smart people tough questions designed to put them on the spot. That's what I want to do, and that's the opposite of what Numbers USA is doing.

But, it's not just the Texas townhall that failed. Of the 17 comments from Numbers USA activists on [1], none of them actually held politicians accountable:

Illinois - Congressman Aaron Schock & Senator Mark Kirk - Veterans Job Fair
I passed out about 75 fliers to people going into the event and to people leaving... Several thanked me for being there as they left and expressed disgust with Senator Kirk for his actions, so my message had gotten through to the Veterans.

Obviously, they didn't channel their "disgust" into productive action by asking Kirk tough questions and holding him accountable: if they had, their mood would be different.

Kansas – Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins – Listening Session
Believe me she understands what a lot of her voters think about immigration. She had a packed house in that room. All but a couple of people there were against amnesty. She got the message loud and clear. Lets hope she does the right thing by her voters.

"Hope"? My plan is designed to force politicians to offer better policies, not to leave it up to hoping.

Texas - Congressman Kevin Brady – Town Hall
...He then said 'how many in this audience believe that we can deport 11 million?' Clearly inviting the audience to agree that it was not going to happen. He misjudged his audience if he thought he would get agreement on this issue. I was sitting in the back of the large church and a voice near me yelled out 'We don't have to - stop the jobs and they'll leave.' Others (including myself) said 'Enforce the law!'
I said that I was a person with a college degree and 20 years of experience as a computer programmer and that I couldn't find a job... Rep. Brady asked if I was still looking for a job. We discussed my personal situation for a moment or two and he said it would be helpful if I would send him my resume' so he could say to companies who importuned him to for more H1b visas - look here is someone who is looking and can't find a job.

The first paragraph is OK, as far as it goes. However, my goal would be to make Brady look bad by pressing him on offering the deportations false choice. I'd work to show how Brady was misleading. Simply shouting things out doesn't do that. The second paragraph quoted above is too "agony column", followed by a stock and probably deceptive commiseration by Brady.

Idaho - Congressman Raul Labrador - Town Hall
I attended Rep. Labrador town hall meeting and told him the one reason why I voted for him was because he ran on a platform that stated "undocumented immigrants must return to their country of origin and then reapply to legally come to the U.S." This statement was still on his website on August 6, 2013. I then said to him that I had never heard him reference this position in any news articles, interviews, or statements and in fact had heard him say he wants to legalize illegal aliens. I asked him to explain this apparent contradiction.
He answered that he had changed his mind, that he had advocated that position for 2 years and couldn't get anyone to agree with him. Two local papers referred to this discussion, indicating that one town hall participant 'took Labrador to task for changing his position.' Several other attendees were appreciative of my comments. Rep. Labrador was very personable and likeable; however, his stance on legalizing 11-20 million illegals, bringing in twice as many low-skill foreign workers, and relying on surveillance rather than a fence are not solutions to fixing our immigration problems and I would give him a low grade on his immigration stance. - Janice

Needless to say, my approach would be different. Rather than calling Labrador on flip-flopping, I'd call him on things that are actually important: the huge downsides of his current position.

Discussing the other instances of failure on [1] is left as an exercise.

Want to do something about this? Force Numbers USA to add some experienced questioners into the mix. They can keep sending inexperienced questioners to townhalls to ask weak questions, with the same failure as discussed above. But, at the same time, they can recruit experienced questioners - such as lawyers - to go to the same events and ask much tougher questions that are designed to hold politicians accountable.

Please tweet @NumbersUSA and @RoyBeck_NUSA and demand that they try to stop amnesty in smart ways. Look up those who send tweets to those two accounts, and ask them to make the same demand.

For more, see: Question Authority (my main plan to block amnesty), bad questions (with lots of examples), and the guide to asking tough questions.

9/18/13 UPDATE: Needless to say, Numbers USA hasn't learned. They offer a "Summer Recess Activism Recap" ( ) which includes yet another example of one of their members failing to do anything against amnesty, and then being feted by Numbers USA:

I asked him where he stood on the immigration legislation and he said unabashedly that he supported Comprehensive Immigration Reform. I asked him what that meant. He replied that the 11 million illegal immigrants were here working and they weren't going anywhere unless we wanted to take buses and round them up. He also said they have jobs, pay taxes, and we needed to find out who they were and bring them out of the shadows. He also said we needed to strengthen the border and implement an entry exit system that worked. I reminded him that one had been enacted in 1996 and was supposed to be in place in 98. Had Congress implemented it, 9/11 may not have taken place. He continued to parrot comments that Rubio had made like doing nothing is de facto amnesty. I said that doing nothing was a false choice- we could enforce existing laws. On that note the conversation ended. I thanked him for sharing his views and we shook hands.