The Nativists Behind the Man Who Called Obama a Liar

ImmigrantsRep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) has received a lot of attention for calling President Obama a liar Wednesday night when he asserted that undocumented immigrants will not benefit from health care reform. Most commentators and politicians have denounced Wilson’s unruly behavior, though not enough have bothered to highlight the inherent fallacy of his accusations. Undocumented immigrants are in fact explicitly barred from receiving any health care benefits under both the House and Senate bills and a closer look at all those who restlessly suggest otherwise sheds some light on the radical nativist underpinnings of their anti-health care reform crusade.

To begin with, Wilson is a member of the Southern heritage group, Sons of Confederate Veterans, which favors secession and defends slavery. Crooks and Liars further reports that, as a state legislator, Wilson went against his own party and voted with seven lone right-wingers to keep the Dixie Rebel flag flying over the South Carolina state capitol building.

As a federal lawmaker, Wilson became a member of the House Immigration Reform Caucus (HIRC), a group of (mostly Republican) representatives founded by former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) with the mission of stopping “the explosive growth in illegal immigration,” “reversing the growth in legal immigration,” and halting “amnesties.” Other notoriously anti-immigrant members of HIRC include Steve King (R-IA), who described immigration as a “slow-motion Holocaust,” and Lamar Smith (R-TX), who equates undocumented immigrants with “terrorist weapons.” HIRC members Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), and King all proclaimed that undocumented immigrants would receive health care benefits long before Wilson’s outburst. The two Republican representatives, Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA) and Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV), who proposed amendments to the House health care bill that would’ve added stringent citizenship verification mechanisms are active members of the HIRC as well. Heller and Deal also lead the fight to overturn the 14th Amendment and end the policy of automatically granting anyone who is born in the country US citizenship.

Wilson’s reaction last night was certainly out of line, but his indefensible fit of temper was illustrative of a larger discussion taking place amongst HIRC members and anti-immigrant groups who see the health care debate as yet another opportunity to promote their nativist agenda by advancing illogical fears, misplaced anger, and calculated misinformation. HIRC is now headed by Brian Bilbray (R-CA) — a former lobbyist for the anti-immigrant hate group, Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). The Center for New Community reports that FAIR paid him almost $300,000 for work on its behalf between May 2002 and July 2005. Since then, Bilbray has announced his intentions to “work closely” with groups such as FAIR and the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), another “FAIR spin-off group” that has been identified as part of the “nativist lobby.”

It comes as no surprise that HIRC’s health care reform haters have regularly relied on the shoddy “expertise” of FAIR, CIS, and their sister-group, NumbersUSA, to promote the myth that undocumented immigrants will be covered under the bill. Another anti-immigrant group, Americans for Legal Immigration (ALIPAC), has gone as far to call Wilson a “brave Congressmen” for calling Obama out on his “lie” and have advised their membership to personally thank him.

andreaWilson has co-sponsored several pieces of English-only legislation and supported efforts to report undocumented immigrants who seek emergency medical care. In 2006, he declared “it is time to curtail the invasion of illegal aliens.”

Andrea Christina Nill

Republished with permission from the Wonk Room/Think Progress


  1. Jblair says

    Really? Certain methodologies still seem to amaze me to this day. It is clear that Wilson could have expressed his thoughts in a more appropriate manner. Nevertheless, he was right on point. How can Obama guarantee that undocumented illegal immigrants will not receive health coverage. As it is now they do, and they will continue to do so. Again, this financial burden will fall on the tax payers. For example, is it not part of a doctor’s Hippocratic oath to treat any individual regardless of means to pay for their services? Secondly, how can Obama even begin to state that this system will prevail when social security is almost on the brink of extinction. Why must we implement new policies? I feel that we should try to fix what we have. No one seems to be upset that we will indeed never receive any return on all our contributions to social security. Well, if you are so content with giving your money away and never receiving any compensation for it then please feel free to do so with me. I would be more than happy to rob you just like the federal government is doing right now. In conclusion, I fully support Wilson’s quote and all the others that have called it as they see it. As for whoever wrote this article, you have continually misinterpreted Wilson’s character again and again or at least the points you make are very weak. The son’s of confederate veterans is a group that takes pride in their heritage, that is all. They have no intent of succession or anything of the nature. And if you are going to use that example, lets us bring into account Obama’s church of 20 yrs that preaches on hatred of white people. Let’s talk about his ties to radical Muslim groups and so forth. Nevertheless, IT IS TIME FOR A CHANGE! Does this sound familiar? Well change you wanted America and change you shall get. Unfortunately it is not always for the better.

  2. Greg Tedesco says

    Winslow you have an interesting idea! I think the Mexican people might invite us to dissolve OUR country, and take our boarder states. They are already starting to occupy Southern California, Arizona, New MEXICO, and Texas, and many large cities to the North. Los Angeles, or San Diego could be the new capital of Baja California. My whole family has learned to speak, or is studying Spanish (Mexican,as Bush Jr. called it)and it helps us a lot. I would like to see Spanish as the second official language of the US, and have it taught to every school child, starting now. We would then be able to communicate with all our neighbors to the South(less Brazil, and indigenous peoples) Think how greatly trade, tourism, and the arts could flourish if we lived in a bilingual society! IF we had strong middle classes the boarders would mean less, and people could flow more easily.

  3. tlwinslow says

    Rep. Wilson is part of a hardcore minority of white supremacists who still refuse to accept the existence of Mexicans, and want to continue the sad 1848 Apartheid foisted on Mexico back in the naked white supremacist era of the U.S., when they took half of Mexico’s territory for their whites-only homeland, leaving sawed-off Mexico eternally dependent on them with no lebensraum for future pop. growth.

    160 years and the chickens are coming home to roost, and instead of letting loud white supremacists shout down attempts at reasoning in the Obama era, it’s time to end the apartheid by having Congress invite the Mexican people to dissolve their ever-corrupt fatcat and cartel-controlled govt. and failed country and join the U.S. as 10+ new states sans racism. After the U.S. military and coast guard move in and end the lawlessness, the border came come down and Mexico can finally be developed as a sector of the U.S., raising GDP, for a win-win solution. The new bigger seabound U.S. border will be easier to defend against world terrorism, and a sane rational immigration policy vis a vis overseas nations can be developed by all 414 Americans.

    Click the url and read my Megamerge Dissolution Solution proposal showing how the Obama admin. can do it starting as early as 2010.

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