House members opposed to immigration reform are apparently so marginalized now that the leader of their own specifically designated space for hating on immigrants, the House Immigration Reform Caucus, doesn’t agree with them.
Some of the most notorious anti-immigrant Republicans in the House, all with their own storied history of saying and supporting outlandish things against immigrants and immigration, held a “pen and pad” session with reporters yesterday, apparently just to go against their party’s current willingness to support immigration reform and express their dissatisfaction with the upcoming legislation. Reps. Steve King (IA), Mo Brooks (AL), Dana Rohrabacher (CA), Michele Bachmann (MN), Lou Barletta (PA), and Louie Gohmert (TX) rehashed old right-wing talking points about how we need more border security rather than immigration reform and discussed their desire to slow down the momentum that immigration reform has picked up in the last few months. In a decision to completely ignore the last election and the GOP’s continuing attempt to win Latino votes, Rep. Rohrabacher even started talking about self-deportation again and why he supports it.
As Rohrabacher said: “You make sure that people who are here illegally do not get jobs, and they don’t get benefits and they will go home. It’s called attrition. I don’t happen to believe in deportation. If you make sure they don’t get jobs and they don’t get benefits, I mean Mitt [Romney] called it self-deportation, but it’s not; it’s just attrition. They’ll go home on their own.”
The other Congressmembers weren’t much better. Mo Brooks advocated for a new immigration policy that would bring immigrants “less likely to be on the consumptive side of our economy” to the US. Michele Bachmann wondered why Congress is considering a comprehensive immigration bill at all, and not just one bill that works on securing the border (answer: probably because the border is already secure, and because an enforcement-only bill wouldn’t solve like, any of the actual problems with the nation’s current immigration policy). Lou Barletta expressed amazement that “there is any talk at all about a pathway to citizenship”—completely ignoring the fact that one of the reasons we’re talking about such a pathway is because a clear majority of Americans support it.
On the same day, meanwhile, Rep. Ted Poe, the chair of the House Immigration Reform Caucus—historically the legislative club for anti-immigrant members of Congress—was also talking about immigration, albeit in a very, very different tone. As Fox News Latino quoted him yesterday:
“I’ve changed,” said Poe, who was first elected to Congress in 2004. “I used to think we had to do border security before we ever talk about other immigration issues. But we have to do them in tandem, because [otherwise] we’ll never get to those other issues. The border is really not secure because of the drug cartels.”
“They’re not leaving,” Poe said of the millions of undocumented immigrants. “They’re not going to go back to their countries, and what purpose would it serve for them to leave?”
And this from a Congressman who once quoted a KKK Grand Wizard on the House floor!
At least Poe seems to have seen the light of day when it comes to immigration reform and why Republicans must get behind the issue. Which is more than we can say for the House “self-deportation” caucus, which seems hellbent on continuing to drive Republicans off the demographic cliff.