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House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX), Immigration Subcommittee Chair Elton Gallegly (R-CA), and Immigration Subcommittee Vice Chair Steve King (R-IA) — our “three amigos” on immigraton — keep advancing their wish list of immigration “reforms” that would tighten the screws on immigrants of ALL statuses.
Yesterday, Smith’s House Judiciary Committee was scheduled to have marked-up one of the first in a series of anti-immigrant bills, H.R. 1932. If you heard Smith talk about it, you would think the bill is narrowly focused on dangerous criminals. It in fact does nothing of the sort. The bill would sweep up innocent asylum-seekers fleeing persecution and long-term lawful permanent residents who, because of Smith’s harsh 1996 laws, are facing deportation due to minor, non-violent crimes they may have committed decades ago.
The Smith bill creates an immigration gulag of sorts, and gives the government the broad authority to lock people up forever, with no rights to demand release.
Smith claims he is trying to address the problem that certain countries refuse to accept their own nationals who have been issued deportation orders. But Smith’s bill doesn’t do that. He never addresses that particular issue, and he refuses to acknowledge workable ideas that do. For example, the Obama Administration’s State Department and Department of Homeland Security have crafted a new strategy to compel better international cooperation by imposing stiffer sanctions on such countries. He seems to have ignored their strategy entirely.
House Republicans, led by Rep. Smith, have declared open season on immigrants. Today it’s a bill to give government the power to lock up immigrants and throw away the key. Tomorrow it’s mandatory E-verify legislation that Smith thinks –wrongly— will drive millions of undocumented immigrants out of the country.
These are all bad ideas. Piled on top of the broken immigration system that he himself helped forge, his ideas will only make the situation worse. The Republicans seem to only be interested in political theatre and not in finding real solutions. They fail to realize that the audience is filled with Latino voters.
With Lamar Smith in the driver seat on immigration policy for the GOP, the Republicans’ already tainted image will only get worse.