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Hill GOP Leaders Silence Rep. Lamar Smith, Mostly Mum on Obama's DREAM Move

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Yesterday, we got word that Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the leading anti-immigrant voice in the House of Representatives, had scheduled a press conference on immigration.

That wasn’t a surprise. In the wake of President Obama’s bold action to protect DREAMers, we expected the usual backlash from Smith. After all, his partner in immigrant-bashing, Rep. Steve King, already announced that he was planning to sue Obama over his move to grant executive relief to DREAMers.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Lamar Smith’s press conference. It was cancelled.

Tucked into The Hill’s article, GOP reels after deft Obama move, was this line:

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, canceled a Monday press conference on the issue.

If anything shows the extent to which GOP leaders are actually reeling after Obama’s action, it’s that Lamar Smith was silenced.  Here’s more from The Hill:

Republican leaders in Congress have reacted to Obama’s announcement with caution.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who had initially declined to comment, weighed in Monday to criticize the unilateral nature of Obama’s move — but not the policy itself.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, canceled a Monday press conference on the issue.

And despite charges from conservative groups and some rank-and-file Republicans that the new rule will reward lawbreakers and steal jobs from U.S. citizens, GOP leaders in the lower chamber — who have been relentless in their criticisms of Obama on just about every issue to come to the fore this year — have so far held their tongues.

The office of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) did not respond Monday to requests for comment, and the office of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was almost as quiet.

Like Mitt Romney, Republican leaders on Capitol Hill don’t want to talk about protecting DREAMers — and they don’t want their loudest, angriest anti-immigrant mouthpiece, Lamar Smith, talking about NOT doing it, either.

The representative from Texas sets immigration policy in the U.S. House, and by extension, for the GOP. Like Mitt Romney, he’s an advocate of self-deportation and, like Romney, he opposes the DREAM Act.

We know that Smith has very thin skin. The fact that he was publicly silenced by his leadership can’t be sitting well. But as Greg Sargent notes, the American people are with Obama and the DREAMers on this one.