After Obama’s Immigration Action, a Blast of Energy for the Tea Party

What started five years ago as a groundswell of conservatives committed to curtailing the reach of the federal government, cutting the deficit and countering the Wall Street wing of the Republican Party has become a movement largely against immigration overhaul. The politicians, intellectual leaders and activists who consider themselves part of the Tea Party have redirected their energy from advocating fiscal austerity and small government to stopping any changes that would legitimize people who are here illegally, through granting them either citizenship or legal status.

“Amnesty for Millions, Tyranny for All,” declared the Tea Party Tribune website, summing up the indignation among conservatives over Mr. Obama’s executive action to shield up to five million people from deportation.

A group of sheriffs is organizing a demonstration next month at the Capitol. Activists are sending fat envelopes stuffed with articles on illegal immigration to members of Congress.

And in their most audacious plans, Tea Party groups are preparing to recruit challengers to run against high-profile Republicans they accuse of betraying them — as they did when they toppled Eric Cantor, the former House majority leader.


Conservatives say emotions over immigration run so high that the issue could be even more politically potent than the Affordable Care Act. Like many of the economic concerns that animated Tea Party supporters, immigration issues play to people’s anxieties about their financial well-being and the future.

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