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Rep. Lamar Smith (TX) Raises Stakes in GOP’s Demonization of Immigrants

by Mahwish Khan on 06/02/2011 at 10:35am

house floorRep. Lamar Smith (TX), the Republican Chair of the House Judiciary Committee — and one-third of the notoriously anti-immigrant “Three Amigos” — just can’t help himself when it comes to attacking and demonizing immigrants.

This time, Smith–the GOP’s top political strategist for Latino outreach–is taking on asylum-seekers fleeing persecution and seeking freedom in America.

Today, Smith’s House Judiciary Committee is marking up the “Keep Our Communities Safe Act,” H.R. 1932.  This made-for-TV trial/hearing has little to do with keeping communities safe.  It has everything to do with trying to keep Republican legislative districts safe for re-election by waving the flag of fear against immigrants.

In typical Smith fashion, he will pretend that his legislation is simply about protecting the public from dangerous predators.  But the truth is his legislation goes well beyond targeting violent offenders. It also authorizes prolonged and even permanent detention of asylum-seekers and long-term legal permanent residents who pose absolutely no danger to society.     

Immigrant and Latino voters are tired of immigration legislation that makes the system worse, and they’re tired of being called a bunch of criminals by Smith and his crew.  It’s strange that House Republican leadership would continue to let the “Three Amigos” of Smith and his side-kicks Elton Gallegly (R-CA) and Steve King (R-IA) run the show, when the GOP is at a crisis point with Latino voters.  If they needed any more evidence, Sharron Angle’s abysmal 8% showing with Latinos in 2010 should have been enough to convince the GOP that following the Smith approach to immigration politics is downright deadly for the Republican Party. Furthermore, as Sam Stein reported earlier this week, the 2010 Census shows that the Latino population in the U.S. “is growing at a rate much faster than any other demographic.”

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