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Gary Miller Thinks He Understand DREAMers Because He Once Moved from Arkansas

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Nice try, Gary Miller.

Rep. Gary Miller, a Republican from California, has historically been known as an anti-immigrant hardliner, despite representing a district that is nearly half Latino and that went for President Obama by 17 points last November.  He’s been spending this year trying to delete traces of his anti-immigrant past – and today tried to connect with DREAMers by claiming that he relates to them because he’s from Arkansas.

As the Washington Post’s Alex Seitz-Wald reported, Miller said that he understands the difficulty DREAMers face because he, too, once moved across the country.

“You know, I’ve talked to a lot of young people like [you],” Miller told a group of DREAMers who confronted him during a public event. “I mean, I understand the difficulty. Just like I was born in Arkansas. I came here when I was a year old.”

You can watch the video, captured by the House Majority PAC, below:

Are you serious, Gary Miller?  You think you can compare yourself to a group of people who have for years had to live in fear of being ripped away from their friends and loved ones and everything they’ve ever known, who still have to live in fear of being separated from their parents and family members, because you once had to leave Arkansas?  We’re all for formerly-hardliner Republicans changing their tune on immigration, but there have got to be less tone-deaf ways to reach out.

Frank Sharry, our Executive Director here at America’s Voice, had strong words calling out Miller for his ridiculous comparison.  As Frank told Alex Seitz-Wald:

 It’s stunning in its ignorance and revealing in how out of touch some Republicans are with the experience of undocumented immigrants.  And this is a guy who represents a district in California, the state that has the largest number of undocumented immigrants in the country.

So for him to say, I get your experience, I came from Arkansas to California, as if that is equivalent to a young kid coming from Mexico or El Salvador and growing up in the American school system and having opportunities denied to you because of your family’s immigration status, I mean, oh my God.  I’m going from finding it really hilarious to really disturbing.

Markos Moulitsas at Daily Kos also wanted to know how, exactly, Miller thinks he is similar to DREAMers:

Can Miller be deported back to Arkansas?

Does California bar benefits for people from Arkansas?

Is he forbidden from visiting Arkansas, lest he not be allowed back into California?

Does he get pulled over and asked for papers for looking like he’s from Arkansas?

Is he or his children blocked from going to college or joining the military because his parents were from Arkansas?

Does California have an entire political party dedicated to making life miserable for people from Arkansas?…

Even I, having lived a bona fide immigrant experience, have no clue what it must be like for our undocumented. But Miller moved once, so he totally feels them even though he votes consistently against them?

On the plus side, Miller is a political fluke, the beneficiary of California’s new (and ridiculous) jungle primary in which all candidates, from all parties, run together in a primary, with the top two going into the general. Too many Democrats split the vote in this 17-point Obama district, and Miller squeaked through. He’s the lowest of low-hanging fruit for Democrats. He won’t be around much longer.

Lucky for him, he can always go back to his motherland, Arkansas.