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Today: Political Theater, starring Lamar Smith, David Vitter and CIS

by Dara Lind on 07/26/2011 at 11:41am

The Halt ActRepresentative Lamar Smith and Rep. Elton Gallegly have really outdone themselves this time.

So far this year, they’ve used their leadership positions on the House Immigration Subcommittee for some Broadway-caliber acts of political theater. But the plot twists and spotlight-hogging we expect to see at today’s HALT Act hearing have the makings of a masterpiece even by their standards. Excited? Good, because we’ll be livetweeting it here starting at around 2: 00 pm Eastern (but could be delayed until 2:30 PM).

Let’s be clear: the HALT Act is a disgusting piece of legislation that, if implemented, would destroy the lives of countless immigrants and their families, including DREAMers, Haitian orphans, and husbands and wives of American citizens. But Gallegly and Smith aren’t just proposing it because they’re anti-immigrant hardliners who want mass detention and mass deportation for everyone. They’re proposing it to bully President Obama — as evidenced by the fact that the bill would only apply to Obama and expire when the next president takes office. They’re hoping that if they intimidate the president, he’ll go from granting relief to DREAMers and other immigrants less often than President Bush did (like he does now) to not doing it at all. Luckily, the Democrats have called defense expert and star immigration lawyer Margaret Stock to testify, and we’re confident she’ll demolish anti-immigrant testimony and arguments.

But while it’s important to take the threat Smith, Gallegly and Vice Chairman Steve King pose to immigrants seriously, it’s hard to see the rest of today’s hearing as anything more than a blustery posturing performance. After all, if the “Three Amigos” wanted us to take them seriously, they wouldn’t have selected the witnesses they’ve picked for this afternoon.

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