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Washington, DC – In a town where political hypocrisy is in no short supply, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) manages to take things to another level. In his latest instance of “getting to no” on immigration, Cornyn opposes taking up the DREAM Act because, he says, Americans want Congress to focus on border security only. Cornyn accused Democrats of playing politics by bringing up the legislation: “I’m certainly sympathetic to the plight of these kids who through no fault of their own, find themselves in this predicament, but the kind of games that Majority Leader Reid is playing here seem more designed to play politics than they do actually to try to solve the problem.”
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “The fact that John Cornyn continues to claim to be a supporter of immigration reform, as he hides behind a facade of excuses, tortured logic, and short-sighted politics to avoid doing anything on immigration, is morally bankrupt and politically stupid. Is he that enthralled by the Michelle Malkins of the world, that he would rather abandon any semblance of political courage and march the Republican Party in Texas and nationwide off a dangerous cliff when it comes to Latino voters?
“Or could it be that Senator Cornyn doesn’t want to have to vote on the DREAM Act, because then he would have to choose between appealing to the darkest side of America that Malkin represents, or supporting thousands of bright, talented, and patriotic immigrant youth?”
Let’s unpack the John Cornyn approach to immigration policy: Claim that you support immigration reform, but refuse to work with Democratic Senators to address it. Spout off about the need for “border security first,” a tough-sounding yet vacuous policy prescription that involves continually moving the goalposts on actual border security benchmarks, instead of addressing the fundamentals of why the system is broken in the first place. Ignore that fact that the federal government has dramatically bolstered border security and spending, crimes along the border have actually decreased, and every day enforcement efforts increase. Then, when Democrats, who have met an impasse on comprehensive reform, attempt to bring up a smaller measure that has bipartisan support, claim that you can’t support the effort because it’s about “playing politics.”
Never mind the fact that Cornyn voted for the DREAM Act in 2003. Apparently more salient is the fact that Michelle Malkin is railing against DREAM in the conservative blogosphere, and that Republicans are loath to work with Democrats on anything these days.
Even if Cornyn can’t find it in his heart to support the dreams and aspirations of young immigrant leaders, surely he should read the writing on the wall when it comes to Latino voters and the GOP. The fact is, Cornyn and the Republican Party need the DREAM Act, and they need to be able to take some credit for its passage. Cornyn only has to look at the changing demographics of his home state, and Latino voters’ impact on the 2010 elections, to recognize the long-term implications of his Party’s approach to immigration reform. If Republicans don’t get behind the DREAM Act, the public face of the Party will be left to the House Judiciary Committee’s mass deportation twins, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Rep. Steve King (R-IA). That’s one ugly face, heading into the 2012 elections where Latino voters could decide the winner of the presidential contest as well as many Senate, House, and other races.
Not only would it be politically smart for Cornyn to support the DREAM Act, but it would be the right thing for the country. Right now, immigrant youth in Texas are on a hunger strike, drawing attention to their struggles to pass the DREAM Act so that they can join the military or go to college. The DREAM Act is about letting young people realize their dreams and contribute to the only country they know as home—something Cornyn must realize in his heart of hearts. As conservative syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette stated in his latest column, “We have no qualms about hiring these people to do our chores and make our lives easier. But, when their children dare to dream of a better life and try to go to college to make that dream a reality, we put up roadblocks as if we’re worried about losing a future labor force. That’s nothing. Given how we’re behaving, we should worry about losing our souls.”
Said Sharry, “Regardless of whether or not it’s too late to save John Cornyn’s soul, let’s hope that sensible Republicans recognize that the DREAM Act is good for the youth who would quality for it and the country as a whole. It would be an economic boon for our nation’s future competitiveness and strengthen the military, and the bill is supported by Americans of all political persuasions. Senator Cornyn, no more excuses. When it’s time to vote for DREAM, everyone will know exactly whose side you are on.”