Are House Republicans really about to install another anti-immigrant extremist as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee–now, when they clearly need to reconsider their standing on immigration and the Latino vote?
For the past two years, the House Republicans’ immigration policy has been set by anti-immigrant hardliners like chair of the House Judiciary Committee Lamar Smith, chair of the Immigration Subcommittee Elton Gallegly, and vice chair of the Immigration Subcommittee Steve King. Those “Three Amigos” set an ugly agenda that was largely parroted by the GOP presidential candidate, Mitt Romney. Since the election, there’s been a lot of speculation that the GOP will have to change its tune on immigration given the drubbing the party just received from Latino voters. Even Speaker John Boehner, among other leading Republicans, is making noises about supporting immigration reform.
Rep. Gallegly is retiring after this term (and by “retiring,” we mean forced out, due to demographics), but there’s another anti-immigrant Amigo ready to fill his shoes as the new Chair of the House Judiciary Committee. House members don’t get much more anti-immigrant than Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). From The Hill:
The Republican lawmaker who is expected to take over the House Judiciary Committee has been a strong critic of immigration reform plans such as the DREAM Act.
That could pose problems for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who this week called for “comprehensive immigration reform.”
Hard-line immigration reform lawmaker Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) is expected to take the gavel of term-limited Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas). The panel has primary jurisdiction on immigration matters.
Goodlatte opposes efforts to create guest-worker programs, or grant amnesty to illegal aliens. He spoke out against the DREAM Act when the House voted on the measure in December of 2010, calling it “unfair” and “ripe for fraud.”
Goodlatte isn’t a new player in immigration. In 2007, he partnered with Lamar Smith and Steve King to float an extremist, anti-immigrant bill as an alternative to the McCain-Kennedy legislation that was being debated at the time. The McCain-Kennedy legislation was supported by none other than President Bush–but Goodlatte wanted to sink that compromise in favor of something far more right-wing.
Goodlatte has also earned an “A+” rating from the restrictionist group NumbersUSA AND a “Blue Ribbon” from them for being “5 for 5” on co-sponsoring their five favorite bills (including ones ending birthright citizenship and making E-Verify mandatory). The “5 for 5” thing is pretty big–of the current Three Amigos, only Iowa’s Rep. Steve King has earned the same Blue Ribbon rating, and he’s the guy who has promised to sue Obama over the president’s deferred action for DREAMers program. As NumbersUSA wrote about the Blue Ribbon designation, “Many Members of Congress will run for re-election this year claiming to be a friend of American workers and an opponent of destructive mass immigration (illegal and legal). But if they haven’t earned the 5/5 Blue Ribbon, a voter has reason to suspect their full commitment.”
It looks like Goodlatte is going to be a committed anti-immigrant extremist–and that’s going to be a big problem for both him and the Republican Party, in the wake of last week’s election rout where the GOP lost the Latino vote by an overwhelming margin. The Republicans have a choice to make: get right on immigration by passing legislation that will provide citizenship to 11 million aspiring Americans–or face more elections like 2012. The fact that they’re about to tap someone like Goodlatte to be the House Republican face of immigration legislation does not bode well for the Republicans.
Latino voters last week set a new standard for turnout, comprising an estimated 10% of the overall electorate. They demonstrated their voting power in key battleground states like Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and Virginia. According to Matt Barreto from Latino Decisions, 50,000 Latinos turn 18 every month. The demographic trend line is heading in our direction, not theirs. And if Rep. Goodlatte follows in the footsteps of Reps. King, Gallegly, and Smith when he takes the reins of the House Judiciary Subcommittee, the GOP is toast.