tags: Press Releases

Lamar Smith, Steve King, and Anti-Immigrant Allies Panic

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Increased Activity by Mass Deportation Crowd Reflects Concern Debate has Shifted

Leading anti-immigrant zealots in Congress, and controversial allied organizations like the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), are busy today promoting several events and new studies that, shockingly, call for hard-line action against immigrants and mass deportation of undocumented workers.  Between a new CIS “study” that tries to paint immigrants as criminals (never mind 100 years of data to the contrary), and a jobs forum featuring mass deportation champions Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Rep. Steve King (R-IA), CIS and Numbers USA–pretending that they know what’s best for American workers, rather than organized labor (which supports comprehensive immigration reform)–the flurry of activity reeks of panic after several weeks of big successes and momentum on behalf of comprehensive immigration reform.  

Following are statements from Esther Lopez, Director of Civil Rights and Community Action for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) and Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice.

According to Esther Lopez:

“Today’s forum, hosted by Reps. Smith and King, is nothing more than another attempt by the far right to mischaracterize and misconstrue the real issues involved in the immigration debate.

“With Lou Dobbs off the air, it seems that Congressman King and his allies are going through immigrant-bashing withdrawal and needed a new forum to spew their tired stereotypes and distract from the real issues facing workers today.  Given their terrible track record on worker issues, it really is the height of hypocrisy that they are now trying to portray themselves as champions of workers.

“Let’s be clear: What the American people really want is our Members of Congress to stop this noise and nonsense and to engage in a rational discussion about solutions to fix our broken immigration system.  No more scapegoating.  No more blaming others.  We simply want Congress to tackle this issue and to do what is necessary to rebuild our economy.

“If the Bush Administration’s approach to immigration enforcement, which these panelists seem to be enamored with, taught us anything, it was that heavy handed enforcement efforts will not fix our broken immigration system.  What we need is an immigration system that works for the American worker.  That means comprehensive immigration reform.  It means ensuring that all workers are protected and that our nation’s labor laws are respected.  Instead of media stunts like today’s event, our elected officials should be rolling up their sleeves and drafting meaningful legislation that will address this critical issue.”

According to Frank Sharry:

“The anti-immigrant crowd’s bankrupt strategy of trying to tie every single issue to a ‘deport ‘em all’ policy prescription is increasingly transparent and desperate.  In the latest incarnation of this worn strategy, it’s both wildly disingenuous and audacious that politicians like Lamar Smith and Steve King now pretend that they care more about the American worker than organized labor, or that they know law enforcement issues better than actual police leaders

“Politically, the mass deportation crowd’s strategy seems an ideal blueprint for how to achieve permanent minority status.  While we know that Lamar Smith and Steve King can’t resist the siren call of nativism, they seem determined to drive their party into long-term oblivion by pursuing a completely self-defeating strategy.  As America’s Voice Education Fund showed this week in a new report, Latinos are driving population growth in key states, shaping the results of the upcoming Congressional reapportionment and exerting their power at the ballot box across the country.  The continued attempt to demonize and drive a permanent wedge between the Republican Party and the fastest growing group of voters is a prescription for extinction, not election.

“The American people reject the mass deportation approach, and are demanding a practical solution to the broken immigration system that will benefit all Americans.  Americans support immigration reform that will strengthen the rule of law, create more taxpayers, replace ineffective enforcement strategies with smart and effective policies, and level the playing field for all.”

America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.