With Backing of Hardline Anti-Immigrant Movement, House Judiciary Committee Set to Mark Up Rep. Diane Black’s Bill to Eliminate Outreach Position
Speaker John Boehner’s recent assertion that the House likely would not address immigration before the 2014 midterms generated widespread attention and condemnation. Yet as the Judiciary Committee schedule makes clear, Speaker Boehner’s assertion needs to be amended: House Republicans are pushing hardline immigration measures moving forward, they’re just not willing to tackle positive, pro-reform initiatives designed to actually fix our broken immigration system.
This Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee will mark up legislation introduced by Rep. Diane Black (R-TN), co-sponsored by diehard anti-immigrant members such as Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), and backed by anti-immigrant organizations such as Numbers USA. The legislation, officially called the “Immigration Compliance Enforcement (ICE) Act,” seeks to eliminate the Community Outreach Officer position at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Rep. Black asserts that the position acts “as a lobbyist for illegal aliens” and weaves her opposition to this ICE position into the larger storyline on the far right that the Obama Administration refuses to enforce immigration laws – a notion at odds with the disturbing reality that the Obama Administration has deported nearly two million immigrants and already has deported more immigrants than any other administration in U.S. history.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
In June 2013, the Senate passed an immigration reform bill with strong bipartisan support. It’s March 2014 – eight months later – and the House Republicans have failed to do the same. Critical questions regarding immigration policy, changing demographics and political consequences hang in the balance. And yet, inexplicably, the House Judiciary Committee decides to devote its precious time on a measure to eliminate a staff position based on a false premise. For all the talk of wanting to do immigration reform, the facts are as disturbing as they are stubborn: the only vote allowed by House leadership on immigration this Congress was on a nasty measure put forth by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) to defund the DACA program and subject DREAMers to deportation; the House leadership has refused to allow floor action on immigration reform that includes a path to legal status and eventual citizenship, even though a majority exists today for just such a package; and the committee of jurisdiction is more interested in throwing a bone to the marginalized and indignant anti-immigrant groups rather than moving forward on legislation that is supported by voters by more than a 3-1 margin and by constituencies right, left and center.