The problem with the pledge recently crafted by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which asks lawmakers to vow not to support immigration reform that would include amnesty, is that it's not an issue that all Republicans can get behind, says Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.
In 1986, Americans for Tax Reform put together a pledge for lawmakers to sign promising to "vote against and oppose all efforts to raise taxes."
As of 2014, 219 House members and 41 senators have signed that anti-tax pledge.
Norquist explained to J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV that his group's pledge worked because it was "an issue that all Republicans agree on."
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The problem with the FAIR pledge on immigration reform, he said, is that "it's not a unifier for Republicans that the tax pledge is — it'll divide people."
"Not all Republicans support Ronald Reagan's version of pro-immigration policies, not everybody supports Steve King's more restrictionist views," Norquist said. "So there's a big division within Republicans."
The FAIR pledge
asks lawmakers to oppose measures "that would grant any form of work authorization to illegal aliens," oppose bills that would increase legal immigration, and oppose legislation "that would increase the overall number of guest workers."
Norquist said FAIR's opposition to legal immigration, as well as a guest worker program, will be hard for several Republicans to support.
"It's not just saying they're against illegal immigration, they're against anything that would increase immigration to the United States," he said.
"Also you have to oppose what's important to the farming community, the ranching community, and the high-tech community, which is guest worker programs and H1Bs," Norquist added.
When it comes to immigration reform, he said, "The easiest parts for free market Reagan Republicans is to say, 'We ought to have a guest worker program particularly in the farm industry. There are a lot of jobs that are seasonal. It's hard to make a living if jobs show up for three months and then disappear, but people can come in as guest workers.'"
"And that worked very well during the Eisenhower years with the Bracero program — we had very little illegal immigration during that period because people could come over and work and then head back home again and come back each year with a permit, with a card which made it OK," he explained.
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