Conservative foes to immigration reform say leaders of the Conservative Political Action Committee have found a way to solve internal friction over the issue: ignore them.
While immigration remains one of the most divisive issues among conservatives, there was little sign of the divide inside the Gaylord Hotel in National Harbor. But below the surface it was another story.
“You don’t have to read the tea leaves,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. “Immigration skeptics have been pushed out by Al Cardenas, it’s right there out in the open.”
Krikorian said pressure to quiet their opposition to reforms began to intensify in 2012 and became overt last year.
Cardenas has been an outspoken supporter of the immigration plan authored by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — which was loudly rejected by the party’s most conservative members — and has been vocal critic of the GOP’s failure to embrace a pathway to citizenship.
“Immigration in the national interest is completely not allowed here anymore,” said Rosemary Jenks, the director of government relations at NumbersUSA, a group that has pushed to reduce immigration.
Jenks added the increased involvement of the business community in the annual conservative confab has made CPAC a “kind of the corporate elites playground instead of [about] conservative principles.”
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