On November 5th, the American Conservative Union released a statement calling on Congress to continue their work toward finding a solution to the immigration crisis facing our nation. The statement provided reasoned arguments utilizing conservative principles as to why this work is so important to America.

Not surprisingly, the statement was disavowed by The Tanton Network as advocating “amnesty.”

The Tanton Network is a highly organized group of organizations that was founded by an opthomologist named John Tanton a few decades ago to lobby against immigrants, immigration, and for population control. This network consists of such organizations as NumbersUSA, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, the Center for Immigration Studies, and roughly a dozen other organizations. It was not surprising that The Tanton Network used a column in the National Review on November 5th to double down in their continuing effort to demagogue against me personally. This latest attack against me and my fellow immigration reform advocates was for my having been a signatory on the Conservative Union statement. It seems that they are offended by the fact that I am, and always have been, a registered Independent voter. I find this ironic.


After all, there is a very long list of conservatives who actually started out in their adult life as liberal Democrats, including columnist Charles Krauthammer and Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia. They, as most people, found themselves becoming more and more conservative as they grew older and wiser. I too became more conservative over the years. However, the difference is that I started out as a right of center conservative Independent, and have become somewhat more conservative over time. I have never been a liberal, or a Democrat, although I openly concede that in the past, I have voted for the occasional Democrat.

My personal conviction is, and has been since I registered to vote at the age of 18, that I look to my conscience when I deliberate on issues, and not to ideology. I also look for leaders who are intelligent, competent, and have the ability to, in fact, lead. In their National Review article, a Tanton spokesperson “bets” that I voted for President Obama in the last election. They would lose that bet.

What I find ironic about this Tanton Network's column is that while they are calling me out for being an Independent, I find that they are, in effect, the pot calling the kettle black. It is very well documented that their group has a long history of being established by uber liberal Planned Parenthood organizers such as John Tanton, and that his group is simply a front for some fringe figures that advocate for population control, Eugenics, and abortion on demand. And they have the gall to call me a liberal?

In fact, it is the Tanton Network that came up with the failed strategy utilized by Mitt Romney that called on undocumented immigrants to simply “self-deport.” It was part of the unbiblical and mean-spirited policy that they invented called “attrition through enforcement.” I am on record as stating that what their cruel policy amounted to was an effort to try to starve the undocumented out of the country by withholding any ability for them to earn money.

I can make a very strong case that the Tanton Network may very well be the number one enemy of the Republican Party - and darlings to the liberal left - because their continued obstruction and “attrition through enforcement” advocacy basically handed the last election to President Obama, and promises to destroy the Republican Party for years to come if the Republicans can’t extricate themselves from the Tanton Network's ill-considered anti-immigrant positions that have so alienated their party from Hispanics, Asians, and young voters. In fact, in their “Republican Autopsy” that was released in the wake of the last presidential election, what was implied, but not stated verbatim, was the goal of getting the Tanton Network to just shut up.

What is especially ironic is that I bet that I am much more conservative than they are on the issues of border security, visa security, and E-Verify. I want to end the scourge of illegal immigration once and for all. The difference between the Tanton Network and myself, is that I also want to find a dignified, strict yet compassionate, and biblical solution for the undocumented that have been here for a long time, and are contributing to the success of our great nation.

The Tanton Network is obstructing our nation from solving this complex problem – but it is a solvable problem. The answer is not amnesty, nor is it self-deportation. The answer is for our nation to be strong and resolute in combating illegal immigration, yet moral and compassionate in allowing the undocumented that are otherwise law-abiding to emerge out of the shadows of society, and to be able to pursue their American Dream. The vast majority of Republicans, Democrats, and yes, even Independents are looking for a solution, and support immigration reform. What we really need is for Congress to vote their conscience and pass an immigration solution. We cannot let the paid anti-immigration lobbyists like the Tanton Network to win the day. That would be de-facto amnesty, and that is unacceptable. We are the Exceptional Nation, but there is nothing at all exceptional about the Tanton Network and their cabal of paid obstructionists.

Gittelson is vice president for Governmental Affairs, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.