As Comprehensive Immigration Reform Stalls and Non-Controversial ENLIST Act Wavers, Fringe Republican House Members Continue to Prove their Stronghold Over House Leadership and House Agenda
It’s been quite the couple of weeks for the extremist Rep. Steve King (R-IA) caucus. In the wake of comments from their ringleader himself who recently told young immigrants who want to enlist in the military that “we have a bus for you to Tijuana,” new comments from his fellow cohorts, Reps. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Lou Barletta (R-PA), provide fresh reminders of how this extreme, anti-immigrant wing is defining the Party’s image to Latino voters in the vacuum left by Republican inaction on immigration reform.
Reps. Smith and Barletta were among some of the attendees at this year’s annual “Hold their Feet to the Fire” event hosted by the Federation for Immigration Reform (FAIR), a designated anti-immigrant hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
According to Right Wing Watch:
In an interview with anti-immigrant radio host Joyce Kaufmann yesterday, Republican Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas expressed dismay at undocumented immigrants joining the military and cited a disputed study to claim that the Obama administration is ‘aiding and abetting crimes in America by intentionally releasing illegal aliens back into our communities.’
Echoing Smith, Lou Barletta hit a similar tone yesterday. As he told the same radio host when asked to respond to recent comments from former Republican Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s about immigrants coming to the United States as “an act of love”:
You know, sometimes we need to remind everyone about September 11. The pilots of those planes, it was an act of love to a different God that took American lives. And not everyone who is here illegally is all here for an act of love for their families.
Thus far this Congress, the only immigration policies that have received full votes in the House were an amendment by Steve King to defund the Administration’s deferred action program and subject DREAMers to deportation and two related measures aimed at restricting the right of the President to exercise discretion in the implementation of laws.
Meanwhile, in the absence of real comprehensive reform in the House, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) is struggling to pass even the least controversial of immigration measures. Rep. Denham’s efforts to attach the ENLIST Act to the Department of Defense authorization bill have been temporarily stalled thanks to the efforts of Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) and others who have been “collecting signatures on a letter outlining opposition to the effort,” per Politico. The bill, which would allow DREAMers to serve in the military and become eligible for eventual citizenship, may be a small bore measure, but it is arguably the least controversial aspect of how Congress should deal with the fact of 11 million undocumented immigrants in America.
According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice:
The Steve King caucus may represent a minority of the House Republicans, but they’re the ones setting the floor agenda and getting the votes. The less House Leadership does to stop them, the more space they provide for King’s ugliness to taint the entire GOP. If Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and the rest of House Leadership care, even a little, about repairing the Party’s image ahead of 2016, then they need to go way beyond the Denham measure and schedule a vote on broad immigration reform with a path to citizenship.
- View America’s Voice’s latest scorecard on the immigration voting record of select House Republicans HERE.