Conservative Radio Hosts Whip Up Immigration Opposition

Thursday, 18 Apr 2013 10:50 AM

By Melanie Batley

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Conservative radio talk show hosts are trying to whip up grassroots opposition to the Senate immigration reform bill unveiled Wednesday by a bipartisan group of eight senators.

On Florida station WFTL, the host Joyce Kaufman called the plan to provided a pathway to citizenship for more than 11 million undocumented immigrants “pure amnesty,” The New York Times reported.

Jim Sharpe said on his Phoenix show, “Arizonans are still not taking this sitting down.”

Related: Gang of 8 Makes Case of Immigration Bill

Radio personalities successfully used the same tactic in 2007 to help create a public backlash against immigration reform efforts, which ultimately helped defeat the legislation.

“So far this has been an inside-the-Beltway echo chamber,” said Bob Dane, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which organized a gathering of radio talk show hosts at the Capitol Hill hotel on Wednesday.

“What they have not had yet is a good, cold blast of air in the face from the rank-and-file conservative. We now have a bill. This is the game-changer where the American public is now starting to weigh in,” he added.

But radio talk show hosts are admitting that the rank-and-file attitude toward reform has softened since 2007. And this time around, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, a member of the so-called "Gang of Eight" that pulled the current bill together, has been making the rounds himself of conservative radio shows to try to shore up support for the new immigration proposals and stem the tide of discontent at the grassroots level

“There is not that rage that there was there [in 2007],” New Orleans radio host Denny Schaffer’s told the Times, although callers to his show suggested putting undocumented immigrants on a bus to ship them back home.

Conservative talk show host Michael Medved also acknowledged that opposition has weakened some.

“What you are not hearing as much, except from a handful of people, is ‘Over my dead body,’” he said. “The level of apocalyptic hysteria is much less.”

The Senate legislation will be debated through May, with a floor vote expected sometime in June.

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