House Immigration Subcommittee Advances Consistent Theme, No Matter the Political Costs
New analysis of Elton Gallegly’s (R-CA) tenure as Chair of the House Immigration Subcommittee shows that his hearings rely on a consistent blueprint and a common underlying goal. Despite the supposed range of hearing topics, they each follow the same formula: pit different groups against each other to foment tension and anxiety and rationalize an agenda that is, at its root, about the deportation of all undocumented workers in the country.
Latinos have been the main audience for some of these hearings, largely due to the Spanish-language outlets that covered Republicans’ incessant scapegoating of immigrants. In fact, 62% of the coverage of the first hearing on immigration raids and worksite enforcement was reported by the Spanish-language press. In an editorial titled “A radical agenda,” La Opinión wrote that the Republican leadership of the subcommittee has used the hearings to scapegoat immigrants for the country’s economic woes, without offering a real solution either to the economic crisis or the broken immigration system.
As chair of the House Immigration Subcommittee, Rep. Gallegly has used our nation’s economic crisis and the plight of the American worker to peddle a mass deportation agenda – incredibly hypocritical given the fact that Gallegly and his fellow mass deportation champions have long track records of voting against pro-worker policies, and oppose comprehensive immigration reform that would level the playing field and expand tax revenues.
Check out the following “greatest hits compilation” from Gallegly’s chairmanship thus far:
- On January 26th, Gallegly chaired a hearing entitled “ICE Worksite Enforcement – Up to the Job?” At the hearing, Gallegly laid bare his answer for what to do with the 11 million undocumented immigrants in our country today – a thinly-disguised mass deportation approach. Yet the hearing also revealed the staggering costs that taxpayers would bear to carry out this agenda. According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), it costs the American taxpayers $12,500 to deport each undocumented immigrant they come across. That means that the government spent $5 billion last year to deport a record 393,000 immigrants. Analysis by the Center for American Progress found that the costs of fully enacting the mass-deportation approach would drain $2.5 trillion over 10 years from the U.S. economy – a $4 trillion swing in GDP compared to the $1.5 trillion in new revenue generated over 10 years by enacting comprehensive immigration reform.
- On March 1st, Gallegly chaired a hearing entitled, “Making Immigration Work for American Minorities.” This was another attempt for Gallegly and company to portray themselves as staunch defenders of the American worker – in this case, African-American and other minority groups – as they tried to sell their mass deportation agenda. However, once again, they found that their actual voting records differ substantially from their rhetoric. Using civil rights scorecards for the 111th Congress issued by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the NAACP, America’s Voice Education Fund found that the Republicans trying to portray themselves as defenders of minorities actually have dismal voting records on issues of importance to these key institutions. Later on, Gallegly’s Immigration Subcommittee held a hearing on ending the diversity visa program—one of the key ways that Africans immigrate legally to the United States. So much for diversity.
- On March 10th, Gallegly’s hearing “Jobs in Recession and Recovery: Who Are Getting Them and Who Are Not,” attempted to paint a picture of all immigrants as bad for U.S. workers and the economy – including the 16.8 million immigrants who are now U.S. citizens and voters, and the many who have started businesses and created jobs right here in the United States. As Michele Waslin, Senior Policy Analyst with the Immigration Policy Center noted, “Immigrants are not the cause of unemployment in the United States. Today’s hearing ignored overwhelming evidence about the contributions of immigrants. Research shows that not only is there no correlation between immigration and unemployment, but that immigrants actually create jobs.” So much for the party of entrepreneurship and economic vitality.
- On April 13th, Gallegly’s hearing about a revamped H-2A program for agricultural workers exposed his goal is to deport trained farm workers rooted in this country, and replace them with temporary guest workers, under an employer-friendly visa program that diminishes labor rights even further for some of the most vulnerable workers in some of the most dangerous jobs in America. Gallegly’s policy vision, if implemented, would decimate the California and U.S. agriculture economy. Given that the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that for every on-farm job in America, there are about 3.1 “upstream” and “downstream” jobs in the nation, the deportation of existing agriculture workers would send an entire industry and related American jobs overseas. A paltry guest worker program would be no substitute for real, comprehensive immigration reform that turns existing workers into legal taxpayers and extends labor rights to all. So much for keeping jobs in America and protecting worker’s rights.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Instead of following Rep. Gallegly’s divide-and-conquer approach to immigration that simply increases tensions and avoids solutions, Republicans should read the writing on the wall. The country wants, and needs, comprehensive immigration reform. Latino voters want, and need, respect. Elton Gallegly, and his mass deportation colleagues Lamar Smith and Steve King, clearly don’t get it.”
Read America’s Voice’s Background on Elton Gallegly: http://americasvoiceonline.org/blog/entry/elton_galleglys_immigration_strategy/
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