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Congress falls short, and the anti-immigrant network helped them get there

Anu Joshi • Feb 03, 2015
Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Today, the House of Representative Judiciary Committee (the committee responsible for handling all issues related to immigration, save border security) held a hearing attacking undocumented immigrants for being the cause of most of the country’s population (really) and lamenting the lack of interior enforcement to enforce attrition through enforcement (because “self-deportation” worked so well for Mitt Romney).

In a hearing filled with disappointment for those hoping for rational debate, most disappointing was that all three of the Republican-invited witnesses are connected to the extremist anti-immigrant national network.  A deliberate and strategic move by Republican leadership to align the Republican way forward on immigration in the 114th Congress with the goals of the extremist national anti-immigrant movement.

(And don’t worry, the Senate wasn’t going to be left out of this anti-immigrant grandstanding, with the Republican leadership in the Senate holding a vote to repeal the deferred action for children program started in 2012 and the new immigration executive action announced by the President in November. Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller was the only Republican to vote no because of the substance of the bill. And who can forget that one of the anti-immigrant movement’s greatest ally is now the head of the Senate Immigration subcommittee.)

After the 2012 election, it seemed that maybe Republicans in both Chambers were re-evaluating their strategic thinkers on immigration policy: a House Judiciary Committee hearing convened by Republicans in July of 2013—a hearing to “Address the Immigration Status of Illegal Immigrants Brought to the United States as Children”—included three Republican members of Congress and one Democrat, two young people who live in mixed status families, someone from the Migration Policy Institute and a faith voice.  But most importantly, it was a hearing where all, all, of the Republican- and Democratic-invited witnesses were in support of providing status to undocumented immigrants brought here as children—and no one had any overt (or covert, for that matter) ties to the anti-immigrant extremist network.

But, it seems that was only to be a short-lived reprieve from the madness. Although the House hearing was simply symbolic and the Senate vote was narrowly defeated, today’s events prove how quickly Republican members of Congress can fall back into old ways, appealing to the least common denominators while promoting failed policies. So while politicians may come and go, and may even show a streak of independence once in a while, the organized anti-immigrant movement, unfortunately, endures.

In case you’re interested, here are the three Republican-invited witnesses that testified before the House Judiciary Committee and their connections to the anti-immigrant movement:

  • Jessica Vaughan is the Director of Policy Studies at the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). Remember, CIS was founded as a project of the stridently anti-immigrant Federation for American Immigration and serves as the organized anti-immigrant movement’s primary source for manufactured research and other data that buoys the movement’s communications and policy goals.  Read more.
  • Paul Babeu is the Sheriff of Pinal County in Arizona. Since becoming Pinal County Sheriff in 2009, Babeu has become one of the anti-immigrant movement’s most reliable allies and spokespersons in state and local law enforcement.  In 2011, the Federation for American Immigration Reform—the flagship of the organized anti-immigrant movement—gave Babeu its “People’s Sheriff” award.  Read more.
  • Jan Ting worked as a fellow for CIS from 2003-2011 before joining their board in 2012, a position he currently holds. (See above and read more.)
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