As the Iowa vote looms the leading Democratic contenders are emphasizing Iraq, health care, and the economy.
Meanwhile, the leading candidates of the Know-Nothing Party in Iowa are united in carrying the banner of anti-Hispanic nativism:
The imagery of the mailings is designed to pack a wallop: a Mexican flag fluttering above the Stars and Stripes, the Statue of Liberty presiding over a "Welcome Illegal Aliens" doormat, a Social Security card emblazoned with the name "Juan Doe," a U.S. passport proclaiming, "Only one candidate has a plan to STAMP out illegal immigration."
As Republican presidential candidates troll for votes, they have flooded mailboxes in Iowa and New Hampshire with such loaded images. Their campaigns have filled the airwaves, packed their Web sites and taunted their adversaries, proclaiming their concern over porous borders and accusing opponents of insufficient vigilance.
Huckabee's "Secure America" plan twins a similar crackdown with a proposal to give all illegal immigrants 120 days to register with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and to leave the country. Those who register would face no penalty if they later applied to immigrate or visit. Those who do not "will be, when caught, barred from future reentry" for a decade, Huckabee's plan states.
Huckabee proved so mindful of the issue that he used last week's assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto to argue for stronger border controls, "to make sure if there's any unusual activity of Pakistanis coming into the country."
Romney would cut federal funds to any city that refuses to comply with federal immigration laws or to cooperate with a crackdown. Giuliani would issue all noncitizen workers and students a single, tamper-proof biometric identity card and create a single database to track all noncitizens in the country.
Rep. Tom Tancredo (Colo.), who joined the presidential campaign solely to pursue his hard-line agenda on illegal immigration, was so comfortable with the direction that his fellow GOP candidates were taking that he dropped out of the race last month and pronounced the field "Tancredo-ized."
Latino and other minority groups see racial codes in many of the words the Republican candidates have used -- for instance, "illegals" rather than "illegal immigrants." And hovering around the campaigns are far more strident figures and organizations. Immigration groups were taken aback when Huckabee accepted the endorsement of Jim Gilchrist, the founder of the border-security Minuteman Project, calling it "providential."
Mothers Against Illegal Aliens recently posted a plea for people to bring their own sheets and utensils to hotels and restaurants because "the person who cooked your meal or made your bed may very well be the one who picked your fruit and vegetables," suggesting that immigrants are spreading disease.
Just kinda warms your heart, doesn't it?