The Sudden Emergence and Disappearance of Families First on Immigration

In early January, the Washington Times reported on the emergence of a new immigration coalition, Families First on Immigration – headed by Manuel Miranda and consisting of such right-wing stalwarts as Paul Weyrich, Don Wildmon, Gary Bauer, and Lou Sheldon – that was promoting what it called the “holy grail” of compromise on immigration reform.  

Families First on Immigration’s proposed “holy grail” compromise consisted of granting citizenship to those already in the country illegally who were related to U.S. citizens while simultaneously amending the 14th Amendment’s birthright citizenship provision.  Miranda hailed the concept as “a real compromise” that was both “consistent with Christian teachings and with the rule of law.”  

Since then, Families First on Immigration hasn’t been heard from, with searches of the Lexis and Factiva databases returning a grand total of one mention of the group since late January.    

And that one mention was this recent Washington Monthly profile of Miranda, which helpfully explains why there probably haven’t been any other mentions of his stillborn coalition:

For one thing, it has no full-time staff—in fact, there don’t appear to be any staffers at all besides Miranda. It also seemingly has no mailing address, Web site, official phone number, or public e-mail address …This time, Miranda is attempting an intervention rather than an attack, and already there are signs that his proposed compromise may be too clever by half. Richard Viguerie, for instance, objected to the limited legalization Miranda proposed in his January letter, stating that any Republican seeking the presidential nomination must hold a firm line on immigration. “I know what Manny’s trying to do; that’s why I signed on to begin with. But there’s a line here,” Viguerie says. “Any Republican candidate who tries to compromise on [amnesty] will lose in 2008, and I and a lot of others will work very hard to make that happen.” And last month, when Miranda told the news organization Inter Press Service that if the Minutemen, the anti-immigration volunteer border patrol, “agreed to our fundamental principles, they could join on,” he was swiftly criticized by Hispanic evangelical leaders, who represent the fastest-growing segment of the evangelical population. “It’s great that white evangelicals are finally speaking out on this issue,” says Rev. Samuel Rodriguez Jr. of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. “But so far, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with what we’re hearing.” Miranda, who has never found a political dustup he couldn’t win, may finally have met his match.