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Tomorrow's House Judiciary Committee Hearing Is Yet Another GOP Anti-Immigrant Sideshow

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Tomorrow, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing where Republicans will grill DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson.  The hearing will no doubt cover a range of immigration policy issues as Republicans see them, including Steve-King-caucus-priorities such as criminal activity by immigrants, the Obama Administration’s lack of respect for the law, criminal activity by immigrants, and the Obama Administration’s lack of respect for the law.  Did we mention the Obama Administration’s lack of respect for the law?

Never mind the fact that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born people, and that the Obama Administration has deported more immigrants per year than any other President.  The facts have no place in Republican-led Committee’s oversight and “fact-finding” hearings.

Secretary Johnson will no doubt be asked to respond to a recent Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) “study” about foreign-born people who were released from detention after completing their criminal sentences. As a reminder, CIS is one of the organizations supported by white nationalist John Tanton.  The group gained notoriety during the 2012 presidential campaign when Mitt Romney adopted its “self-deportation” policy. That worked so well it led to Romney’s crushing defeat among Latinos.

You’d think Republicans would have had enough of CIS, but Chairman Goodlatte is a true believer. He has read the group’s recent “report,” and he’s up in arms despite, once again, the pesky facts.  Tomorrow will be just the eighth hearing to explore this general topic since Goodlatte took the gavel last year.  It’s only the twenty-seventh hearing on immigrants and crime or fraud since Republicans took back the House.  It makes you wonder if Goodlatte has read CIS’ entire body of work, because if he has then certainly we would have seen more hearings on other major problems “caused” by immigrants, such as global warming and obesity among teenagers.

The literature abounds when it comes to CIS and its connections to anti-immigrant hate groups like the Federation for American Immigration Reform.  CIS’ shtick is tabloid research that’s better suited for a supermarket checkout line than a congressional hearing room.  This advocacy organization starts with the conclusion that immigrants are bad and crafts a ‘report’ to ‘prove’ it.  The organization is conveniently holding a panel at the National Press Club right after the HJC hearing just to make sure you remember that immigrant = criminal (despite the fact that it doesn’t).

The House Republicans’ hearing will do one useful thing.  It will give us a chance to remind people of the low level of criminal activity among immigrants—and the low level of legislating activity on immigration by the Republican House.

The Senate passed a broad, bipartisan immigration bill nearly a year ago.  The House has its own version, HR 15, with 200 cosponsors (and 191 signatures on a discharge petition to bypass the Committee and bring the bill directly to the floor).  But instead of bringing that bill to the floor for a vote, or introducing their own proposal, House Republicans are holding yet another hearing.

You’d think, after the 2012 “self-deportation” debacle, Republicans would be warier of embarking on these CIS witch hunts.  By continuing to listen to CIS — and continuing to avoid taking real, legislative action on realistic immigration reform — House Republicans are guaranteeing themselves a Romney-like future for many cycles to come.  You see, immigrants and Latino and APIA voters are tired of being labeled “criminals” by one particular political party.

Tomorrow will be just another of the House GOP’s anti-immigrant sideshows. The House GOP leadership is letting CIS and Steve King set its immigration agenda. That’s a surefire way to lead the Grand Old Party off the demographic cliff.