Republicans are engaged in an inner-party fight over immigration, with supporters of more liberal laws working to discredit some advocacy groups pushing the GOP's more conservative stance on the issue, according to the Washington Post
The groups being targeted by some Republicans, who are looking to immigration reform to help the party recover from its miserable showing among Hispanics in last year's election, include Numbers USA, the Center for Immigration Studies, and the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
The groups have helped shaped the party's hard-line stance against illegal immigration in the past, but are now being accused by those backing reform efforts of only acting like conservatives while pushing an agenda of population control that includes backing for abortion, sterilization, and other policies not normally backed by conservatives.
The groups, though, say they are being smeared to distract attention away from the positions they take in support of tougher restrictions on immigration.
According to the Post, the groups have long been a driving force behind the GOP's hard stand on immigration, spreading their influence across Capitol Hill, where they are often referred to and quoted by Republican leaders for their expertise on immigration matters.
But some of the party's new breed are breaking ranks with the groups, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who has offered his own immigration overhaul proposal and is working on a bipartisan plan with seven other senators.
The Post noted that Rubio expressed concerns about the motives of some groups in a recent conference call on immigration with conservative activists.
Rubio spokesman, Alex Conant, told the Post that his boss "has argued that some groups that oppose legal immigration should not be considered part of the conservative coalition,” adding that the “vast majority of Republicans strongly support legal immigration.”
The groups, however, insist that their views are no different from many Americans who are worried about the impact of illegal immigration. And they describe themselves as single-issue organizations focused only on immigration matters, with no official position on abortion or other issues that go against traditional conservative beliefs.
“Our motives are very clear, and some of them appeal to conservatives and some appeal to liberals,” said Roy Beck, executive director of Numbers USA.
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