CORRESPONDENCErnLetter FromrnMichiganrnby Greg KazarnThey Are Coming,rnFather AbrahamrnRepul)lican presidential nominee GeorgernW. Bush sa)s that immigration “is not arnproblem to be solved. It is the sign of arnsuecessful nation. New Amerieans are tornbe weleomed as neighbors and not to bernfeared as strangers.” In 1996, the Republicanrnplatform advocated an end to grantingrnautomatic citizenship to childrenrnborn to illegal aliens. Under Bush, thern2000 platform does not mention “illegalrnimmigration” or illegal aliens. As thernTexas governor puts it: “Familv values dornnot stop at the Rio Grande.”rnYet immigration eould emerge as arnsleeper issue in Michigan, where freshmanrnRepublican U.S. Sen. SpencerrnAbraham is locked in a close race withrnDemocratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Stabenow.rnAs chairman of the Senate JudiciaryrnCommittee’s immigration panel,rnAbraham supported a controversial increasernin the number of skilled HIB visarnworkers from 65,000 to 115,000 per year.rnHe later told the Detroit News that evenrnmore HIB visas should be granted tornnoncitizens. “I know some people criticizernthese visas,” Abraham said. “But ifrnwe can’t hae those workers here, yourncan bet the 11 go to their nahve countriesrnand create competition.” The odds favorrnAbraham in November: he has the powerrnof ineumbenc} and a substantialrnfundraising advantage over Stabenow,rnwhose main claim to fame is that she is arncareer politician first elected to office inrn1976. The grandson of Lebanese immigrants,rnthe Harvard-educated Abraham isrnlikely to benefit from a crossover voternamong the country’s largest bloc of Arab-rnAmericans, based in metro Detroit, whorntend to vote Democratic.rnAbraham’s position on immigrationrnhas been criticized by the Federation forrnAmerican Immigration Reform (FAIR),rnwhich has been airing advertisements inrnMichigan. The FAIR ads contend thatrnAbraham’s legislation, S. 2045, wouldrnharm American high-tech workers bvrngranting employers an unf;iir advantagernover citizens who work in the industry.rnFAIR maintains that the bill contains nornprotection for the jobs or wages of nativernworkers, and that it would permit employersrnto hire guest laborers instead ofrncitizens and legal immigrants. Abraham’srncampaign has responded by callingrnthe FAIR ads the work of “haterngroups.”rnIn 1994, Abraham was elected with 52rnpercent of the vote, defeating DemocraticrnU.S. Rep. Bob Carr. The contest was arnthree-man race until the final ten days.rnLibertarian Jon Coon mounted a seriousrncampaign based upon Second Amendmentrnrights, blanketing Michigan withrnthousands of orange hunter signs. Abraham’srnsupporters responded by airingrnelectronic ads by rock star Ted Nugent, arnstaunch hunter/Second Amendment advocate.rnCoon still received about fivernpercent of the vote.rnThis year, Abraham faces Stabenow,rnLibertarian Michael Corliss, and the ReformrnParty’s Mark Forton, former chairmanrnof the Republican Party in MacombrnCounty, home of the Reagan Democrats.rnAmong the candidates, only Forton opposesrnunlimited immigration, “If ourrnpopulation doubles in the 21st century’ asrna result of immigration,” Forton says,rn”America as we know it will not survive.rnWe will lose our freedoms, our constitutionalrnrights.” He advocates a five-yearrnmoratorium on new immigration; makingrnEnglish the official language; repealingrntaxpayer benefits for illegal aliens,rnand restricting the influx of immigrantsrnto “180,000 to 250,000 annually,” the traditionalrnnonn.rnForton links open immigration to multilateralrntrade agreements such as NAFTArnand GAIT, charging that both haverndriven down the real wages of middleclassrnAmericans. An autoworker for 35rn}’ears, Forton echoes Reform Party presidentialrnnominee Pat Buchanan, who ranrnwell in Michigan in the 1992 and 1996rnRepublican primaries. “Many corporations,”rnForton argues, “have become sornimmoral, so corrupt, that their first loyalt}’rnis no longer to America. They wouldrnrather pay a Third ‘V’orld worker a dollarrna day than pay a working mother inrnAmerica eight dollars an hour.” Abraham’srnpolicies are “bringing Third Worldrnimmigrants into this countPi’ to provide arnsource of cheap labor for corporationsrnthat make large campaign contributions,”rnsays Forton. “It’s not jirst the automobilernindustry. It’s most of America’srnhigh-paying manufacturing jobs.” Michigan,rnhe believes, “needs a U.S. senatorrnfrom Michigan, not California.”rnThe Republicans are ignoring Forton;rnthere is little evidence that he is mountingrnas serious a campaign as Coon did inrn1994. Although immigration could stillrnemerge as a sleeper issue in debates, it isrnmore likely to play a factor in the 2002rnreapportionment. In a clever yet overlookedrnessay in the September 6 issue ofrnInside Michigan Politics, editor Bill Ballengerrn(a former Republican state senator)rnwrites that the “Problem is, Abraham’srnapproach to immigration hasrnproduced two results: Michigan is morernlikely to lose another seat in Congress afterrnthe next Census; and the Republicanrnparty will probably lose seats in the U.S.rnHouse it now holds to new districts in thernSouth and West that will be won byrnDemocrats, costing the COP its hardwonrnmajority.” Ballenger cites the workrnof Stephen A. Camarota, a resident at thernCenter for Immigration Studies in Washington,rnD.C., who found, in a studyrneoauthored by Texas A&M professorrnI^udley L. Boston, Jr., that the number ofrnimmigrants living in the United Statesrnhas nearl}- tripled from 9.5 million (fivernpercent of the population) in 1970 to 27rnntillion (or ten percent) today. Seventyfirne percent live in only six states, includingrnCalifornia. To estimate the politicalrnimpact of immigration, Camarota andrnBoston analyzed the 1990 census countrnand 2000 projections and then recalculatedrnthe apportionment of House seats.rnIndustrial states such as Michigan, Ohio,rnand Pennsylvania will lose seats, whilernimmigrant-rich California will likely gainrnnine seats, making its electoral significancerneven greater.rnBallenger observes, “A cvnic mightrnopine that Abraham has already calculatedrnthat the Congressional seat Michiganrnmay lose after 2000 is likely to be onernNOVEMBER 2000/35rnrnrn