CPAC exposes GOP split over illegal immigration

Seeking to pick up steam going into the 2010 congressional midterms and even the 2012 presidential election, conservatives of all stripes descended on Washington DC this past weekend to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).  Much of the conference’s focus was devoted to reigning in the federal government’s size and scope, with many speakers gleefully pouncing on President Obama’s battered national agenda.

In a sincere effort to incorporate a wider audience into the conservative movement, the event’s organizers launched the very first XPAC Lounge, an exclusive chill setting in which prominent conservatives made appearances to young adults in the 20-30 year old range.  To further diversify their audience, the event’s organizers allowed for a gay conservative group, GOProud, to have a recognized presence at the conference.

This move by the American Conservative Union, in and of itself, drew notable opposition. Ironically, it was Glenn Beck (CPAC’s keynote speaker for this year) who condemned the Republican Party’s “big tent” mindset on the conference’s last day.  “What is this, a circus?,” he asked. “America is not a clown show.”

For the whole diversity vibe CPAC was generating, there was a demographic the event’s organizers greatly ignored; namely, those concerned with the nation’s broken immigration system.  There was some attention given to the subject, but it took a backseat for the most part.  Granted, a film was shown and there were two immigration reform booths in the massive exhibit hall.

Former Colorado congressman Tom Tancredo pointed out this deficiency for World Net Daily, saying that CPAC 2010 failed the conservative movement in the “potent issues” of border security and illegal immigration.  Furthermore, Tancredo accused CPAC board member Grover Norquist of being soft on illegal immigration.  Norquist is apparently working closely with what can be called an amnesty plan for illegals. As a side note, Norquist is also supporting Sen. John McCain over hardline, anti- illegal immigration supporter J.D. Hayworth.

While President Obama has yet to sign an immigration reform bill, Tancredo makes a good point when it comes to the right finding a solution to immigration.  The fact of the matter is that the right lacks a unified sense of vision on the illegal immigration issue. Tancredo’s unique observation of this aspect of CPAC exposes a potentially mortal wound of conservatives.

For the party that likes to tout the importance of national security, their split on the illegal immigration issue certainly dents their credibility on the matter.