MSNBC has a breathless report up today headlined: “Grover Norquist is now an amnesty-loving immigration activist.” It seems the president of Americans for Tax Reform and all-around conservative activist had a “coming out” party yesterday.

Apparently nobody told writer Julio Ricardo Varela that Norquist has always been pro-immigration and that this is well-known on the right. Varela was simply blown away by Norquist’s testimony:

It took about four hours of C-SPAN video to get to the headline acts at Monday’s Senate Judiciary Committee immigration hearing in Washington, D.C. Gaby Pacheco. Janet Murguía. Mark Krikorian. Kris Kobach. A veritable A-list of the immigration reform debate. If the New York Post were covering the hearings, those four would have been on Page Six.

Yet not even they, nor the smackdown Illinois senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat, gave Kobach, could outdo the hearing’s final speaker. Monday afternoon in Washington, Grover Norquist—who has made a political career on a national no-tax pledge, the Son of Reagan who longs for the conservatism of the 1980s—held his Immigration Reform Coming Out Party. And he sounded like a DREAMer.

“People are an asset,” Norquist began, “they’re not a liability.”

You had me at hello. Continue, please.

“America’s the richest country in the world; it’s also the most immigrant-friendly country in the world. This is not a coincidence. It’s our history, and it’s what we proved again and again. Those that would choose to change our history and would make us less immigrant-friendly, would also make us less successful, less prosperous, and certainly less American.”


Varela predicts that this will lead to Norquist being ostracized from the conservative movement.

Because that is what happens in this country where you try to look at the immigration issue with rational intentions. You get called an “amnesty lover,”  a “leftie,” a “commie,” or in the case of Norquist, the dreaded RINO: a Republican in Name Only. Join the club, Grover. I predict you will get your first “Go back to Mexico” email later this week.

Further on down the column, Varela does note that Norquist has spoken in favor of immigration before, linking to a 2010 Huffington Post article on the subject. But he otherwise treats Norquist’s testimony as major news that marks a potential turning point in the immigration debate.

When I – admittedly rather snarkily – pointed out on Twitter that Norquist’s stance wasn’t news, Varela tweeted back: ” I know that, point of piece was that he rocked the testimony this week, thanks for reading my column,” following it with: “like I said in the piece, where was he with this passion in 2012 election? He is smart to know that issue is shifting now.” He added: “my column links to his position & I said that he supported it but now he has been most vocal and he was amazing this wk in DC.”

Two points in response: First, if he really knew that Norquist was well-known for having a pro-immigration stance, then why label his testimony a “coming out party”? Second, Norquist did speak out in favor of immigration during the 2012 election. True, it wasn’t his top issue. Oddly enough, the first priority of the president of Americans for Tax Reform was taxes, which, if you’ll recall, were kind of an issue in the race. But he does speak out on immigration regularly and always has.

It only a takes a simple Google search to find articles going at least as far back as 2001 on Norquist and his pro-immigration stance. He has even represented the pro-immigration side at the right’s annual CPAC conferences. Norquist’s stance is news only to people who haven’t been paying attention.