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CPAC 2015: Congressman holds anti-immigrant line, offers no solutions

Imagine2050 Staff • Feb 27, 2015
Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC).

During the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) yesterday, Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) exemplified House Republicans’ current strategy for addressing our broken immigration system: Criticize President Obama and offer no substantive alternatives.

Rep. Jeff Duncan and other restrictionists are content to rely on blatant cop outs that are indicative of their inability to address our country’s needs.

Rep. Duncan did plenty of both during a breakout session entitled, “Immigration: Can Conservatives Reach a Consensus?” And his tune was unfortunately all-too-familiar to anyone who has followed immigration debates in Washington over the past several years.

Duncan began his remarks by referring to the actions President Obama announced in November to temporarily protect some undocumented immigrants from deportation. “This is less an immigration issue and more of a constitutional one,” he said quickly before reverting to predictable calls to “secure the border.”

Of course, many in Congress have been employing the same tactic in recent months. This is in addition to the numerous hearings on the president’s actions that are stacked with anti-immigrant witnesses in an effort to revive one of the organized anti-immigrant movement’s primary policy recommendations: the doctrine of “self-deportation.” As a member of the virulently anti-immigrant House Immigration Reform Caucus (HIRC), it is certainly unsurprising for Rep. Duncan to continue these efforts deflecting and obstructing progress on meaningful and humane reforms to our immigration system.

While Duncan offered little other than praising Israeli-style border fencing’s effects as a “force multiplier” in deterring unauthorized migration, other panelists had no issue discussing and proposing policy changes to the immigration system. Topics covered included modifying guest worker visa policies, adjusting re-entry bars for immigrants, and granting some form of legal status for undocumented residents.

Even after co-panelist Alfonso Aguilar suggested circumventing President Obama’s executive action by enacting some of these reforms with legislation that would not go into effect until 2017, Rep. Duncan still refused to address the issues. He instead punted back to his original calls to secure the border and stop the president’s administrative relief programs. In fact, the congressman hardly acknowledged the policy proposals offered by other panelists until the end. “I don’t agree with everything others on this panel have said, but that’s what makes this country great. The ability to have differences of opinion,” he said.

Duncan neglected the fact that, as a member of Congress, he should be able to convey what those differences are and offer alternative policy alternatives that go beyond ambiguous appeals for border security and the rule of law. Claiming President Obama’s actions “poison the well” and prevent progress on reform legislation in other areas of immigration policy, as Rep. Duncan did several times during the panel and his colleagues have so frequently done in Congress, is a blatant cop out and indicative of their inability to address our country’s needs.

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