House Republicans tap anti-immigrant bigots to oversee immigration policy

Two Republican members of Congress who favor mass deportations of undocumented Latino immigrants and have frequently used dehumanizing langauge and negative images of Latinos to push anti-immigrant hysteria will now lead their party's efforts to round-up, detain and then deport some 11 million people and block reforms of the immigration system.

Reps. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, and Steve King, R-Iowa, have been tapped to head the House Judiciary Committee and its Immigration Subcommittee respectively, have pulled no punches when attacking undocumented Latino immigrants. They frequently use terms like "anchor babies" and "illegals" to characterize and dehumanize undocumented Latinos immigrants.

After protecting tax loopholes for powerful corporation, bailing out Wall Street, and adding to the deficit with tax cuts for billionaires, both Smith and King have had the audacity to label undocumented immigrants as a drain on American society (depsite that fact that immigrants pay taxes, are law-abiding, and generate new economic activity).

Both praised and defended racial profiling provisions in the now-struck down Arizona law SB 1070 which required local law enforcement officials to demand "papers" of people they believe to look "illegal."

“Profiling has always been an important component of legitimate law enforcement,” King at one point said in defense of the law, ignoring the generally shared opinion in the law enforcement community that racial profiling is both a violation of civil rights and a waste of resources.

For his part, Smith wants a federal law like SB 1070, wants to end the 14th Amendment provision of citizenship to people born in the U.S., and wants to waste more taxpayer dollars on the failed "e-verify" system (which doesn't verify much).

Both men vigorously opposed the DREAM Act, a bill passed in the House by a large bipartisan majority that would have granted legal status to about 60,000 young immigrants on conditions of public service, entrance into college, and maintenance of good police records.

Both are likely to cause more trouble for the GOP because of their hostility toward Latino immigrants, argues America's Voice, an immigration adovcacy group predicted this week. Their shared hostility toward Latino immigrants likely cost the Republican Party control of both houses of Congress in the 2010 election, as most pollsters believe that a surge of Latino voters were energized by this hostility and sided with Democratic Senatorial candidates.

Frank Sharry, the organization's executive director, said:

The voices in the Republican Party who grasp the long-term significance of driving Hispanic voters into the arms of the Democrats should recognize that Lamar Smith’s mass deportation approach to immigration is the fastest way to seal their Party’s fate.  As the new Congress dawns and as Chairmen Smith and King assume their duties, will any prominent leader in the Republican Party stand up to these radicals and stand for the future of their party?

The progressive community will have to continue to struggle to block inhumane and fascist-like deportation plans of King and Smith as well as urge the Obama administration to walk back its own immigration enforcement policies in favor of at the very least ensuring those eligible for DREAM Act provisions – which the President decribed as vital American approaches to immigration – do not become subject to deportation or detention.

In the face of a right-wing dominated House of Representatives in which real reform isn't possible, we should adovcate an immigration policy that keeps families together, treats every person (the langauge of the Constitution) equally and fairly, and framed within a global economic policy that emphasizes fair trade over the job-killing free trade policies of the past that have done more to drive up undocumented immigration to the U.S. more than any other single policy adopted in the past two decades.

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