The protests against illegal immigration flared up in an unusual place this weekend when more than 5,000 people rallied in Boston, Massachusetts, an area that has historically voted for Democrats.
Organizers hope the surprisingly large turnout will set the stage for a new wave of protests planned for Saturday in Tennessee and two other states.
It was not only the size of the Boston crowd and its enthusiasm for the issue but it’s location in a “blue state” that has organizers of this Saturday’s protests excited.
“I think it’s a sign of the times, a symptom of the problem we’ve got going on here. I think it shows this illegal immigration issue goes beyond party politics,” said James Neighbors, founder of Overpasses for America and one of the groups organizing the protests.
“This has nothing to do with party politics whatsoever,” he said. “This is about the future of America for all Americans regardless of whether liberal or conservative, libertarian, whatever. This is about America, and we’re going to be undermined by our own federal government if we don’t stop it.”
Neighbors said the crowd in Boston reflected a national mood of having lost patience with Washington establishment politicians.
“These people that showed up in Boston, I think like a lot of Americans they’re getting near their breaking point where they’re going to say ‘we’ve had enough,’ and when Americans reach that point we tend to do it in not a very pretty manner,” he said. “It was fantastic. I was shocked to see that many people gathered, you just don’t see that, and they are very, very rightly upset.”
Neighbors said he will be in Memphis Saturday to lead a protest.
One of the issues fueling anger in many states is that the federal government is concealing from governors the locations where illegals are being transported, possibly in an effort to head off protests. Republican governors from Nebraska to South Carolina have complained about being kept in the dark by the feds.
At the Boston protest, historian and radio talk-show host Jeff Kuhner stood on a platform across from the state House atop Beacon Hill and gave a fiery speech in which he lambasted President Obama’s threats to use executive action to grant amnesty to illegal aliens.
“He now plans to bring in 5 million,” Kuhner said, as a woman could be heard yelling “he needs to go to jail” and another shouted “arrest him!”
Kuhner then started ticking off the names of cities in Massachusetts that will “go broke” if they are forced to absorb more illegal aliens.
“As Shakespeare would put it, it is the national question, ‘Shall we be, or not be?’ Shall we exist as a nation, jealous of its sovereignty, faithful to its laws and its Constitution, protecting of its citizens?” Kuhner asked the crowd. “Or, are we going to be transformed, into a socialist Third World banana republic. Because what (Obama) wants to do, what he is in the process of doing, if we don’t stop him now, is turn Massachusetts into Mexichusetts. And my answer to him is loud and clear: No mas, no more!” The crowd responded, breaking into a chant of “No mas, no more!”
Kuhner said the “elites, the ruling class that has run this country now dangerously into the ground, that is now badly disconnected they are from the overwhelming majority of the American people, us, the silent majority, the peasants, the workers, who get up every day, work, pay our taxes, fight in our wars and defend this country.”
“We’re getting hammered and we’re not gonna take it anymore,” Kuhner continued. “The American people, I believe, have now finally risen.”
The crowd was fully engaged, yelling out comments and joining in chants like they were at a religious revival or a rivalry European soccer match.
“I never thought I’d see anything like that in my lifetime,” said William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC. “What happened with Boston took us by surprise. To see that picture of thousands of people in a liberal hotbed gathered against illegal immigration. … That was a beautiful sight.”
Now, ALIPAC, Overpasses for America and a coalition of 50 groups hopes to duplicate that sight in Tennessee this weekend.
Tennessee is the next big battleground in which an upcoming primary, Aug. 7, pits a pro-amnesty incumbent, Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., against a tea-party challenger, Joe Carr.
Gheen said the Boston rally was the largest protest specifically targeting illegal immigration in modern U.S. history, possibly the largest of all time. One of the reasons it was so successful is because it had a bully pulpit leader in Kuhner. He is a former history professor specializing in 20th century U.S. history and president of the Edmund Burke Institute for American Renewal, a Washington, D.C., think tank devoted to integrating minorities into the conservative movement.
Gheen said Kuhner did something no one’s ever done before.
“As long as I’ve done this, the largest protest specifically against illegal immigration was in Washington, D.C., in the spring of 2007, with a little over 1,000 people at the ‘Hold Their Feet to the Fire’ rally. So this was the largest protest against illegal immigration in modern history, perhaps ever, in America.”
That will be hard to duplicate in Tennessee, Washington and Michigan this Saturday, but that’s what Gheen says needs to happen if the movement is to sustain the momentum provided by Boston.
Gheen said he will be personally leading a protest in Tennessee, as will Neighbors. They want to see Alexander, who voted for amnesty bill S. 744, out.
“He is the last Eric Cantor-type battle of 2014 in which we have a chance to remove a pro-amnesty incumbent and replace him with someone who is not,” Gheen said. “Lamar actually voted for Amnesty Bill 744, and groups like ALIPAC and NumbersUSA have been fighting tooth and nail to stop that bill from reaching Obama’s desk, and we barely have stopped it.”
Gheen said it will take a national movement to elect Carr, because Alexander not only has the advantage of incumbency, he has outspent his opponent 10 to one and has a vote splitter on the ballot – one of Alexander’s donors, who is polling 6 percent.
“These underhanded techniques can be overcome, but it will take a national movement to overcome them,” Gheen said.
Chants in Boston of “Send them home!” and “Impeach, impeach, impeach!” were music to the ears of opponents of illegal immigration who have battled for years without seeing a groundswell of grassroots opposition.
“We could have too few people in Tennessee. The bar’s been raised by Boston,” Gheen said. “We haven’t connected the voltage yet, we’re asking people to target these protests, to descend on Tennessee. We’re not just going to overpasses this Saturday, they’re going to be in front of congressional offices in Tennessee, Washington and Michigan. If we flop in Tennessee in five days, it may break our chances for a historic win in November. This is a teetering moment and we either overcome this or we fail this time, and we’ll continue to have this conversation and the message will be, ‘I’m sorry it’s too late.’”
Gheen said he will lead a protest Saturday in Blountville, Tennessee, just north of Johnson City.
“Everyone needs to understand how important Boston was, and it ended up being the high-water mark of the more than 300 that took place on July 18 and 19. And the real reason the liberal bashers are flipping out is this happened in a liberal bastion of Boston,” he said. “We have a real chance here for a growing movement.”