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The restrictionist Center for Immigration Studies held a panel this morning digging in their heels and trying to convince America why we should not progress forward with immigration reform. Entitled “Amnesties: Past, Present, and Future,” the panel featured three of their staff members (can it be called a panel if everyone on it is from your organization? Isn’t that more like a staff meeting?) and opening remarks from anti-immigrant hardliner Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX).
Here’s the early word on what Rep. Smith had to say about the Obama Administration and its plan to tackle immigration reform this year. From Elise Foley at the Huffington Post:
“Based on the president’s record, the first lesson we can learn from the [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] implementation is you simply can’t always believe what the president says,” Smith said during his speech. “That is worth remembering when considering how a large-scale amnesty could be implemented”…
“I think it’s going to be a long process and I think, as I mentioned a while ago, when the American people find out what the administration is up to, I think they will hold the Obama administration accountable,” he told reporters later. “I just don’t think the American people want mass amnesty.”
Smith also reportedly spent much of his eight-minute speech attacking the President’s deferred action for DREAMers (DACA) program and arguing that the President has no authority to administer it.
News flash to Lamar: the majority of Americans want immigration reform—and 57% support the creation of a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million Americans-in-waiting already here. The dominant story coming out of the 2012 elections was how the Latino vote successfully mobilized, made its voice heard—and supported President Obama over Mitt Romney by more than a 3-1 margin. Deferred action not only prompted Latinos to take action at the ballot box, it is also widely supported by Americans (60% of independents favored the program in a recent poll). That’s why the need for immigration reform has been a hot topic ever since—and why the issue is a top legislative priority this year: because Americans want it, Democrats promised it, and Republicans need it.
In fact, the dominant news stories on immigration legislation just today is not any piece about Lamar Smith’s bury-your-head-in-the-sand discussion panel, but Julia Preston’s New York Times piece about what President Obama is planning for immigration reform, and the Wall Street Journal piece on Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and how he is becoming the Republican face of the issue. The current debate is not even about whether or not we should change our immigration policies: it’s about what our immigration policies should look like, and smart Republicans are making their voices heard at the table.
As Erika Johnsen at Hot Air—a conservative blog—wrote over the weekend, “The GOP can’t risk getting caught with their pants down on [the immigration issue], and they’ll need to have a workable alternative on hand — and it sounds like Sen. Rubio is hoping to lead on the issue and further prove his national mettle.”
But back to DACA. In the five months since the deferred action program has begun considering requests, the program has become hugely popular, and application and approval numbers continue to rise. According to numbers released in December, 102,965 DREAMers have been approved, and 157,151 of their requests remain under review. If Lamar Smith and the Center for Immigration Studies would only look up from their anti-immigrant echo-chamber obstructioneering, they might notice that the world is moving on without them. And then maybe they could stop leading fellow Republicans off their coming demographic cliff.