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Meet the "Other Gang" in the Senate

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America’s Voice Education Fund Sheds Light on Senate Immigration Reform Opponents and their Anti-Immigrant “Brain Trust”

Now that you’re familiar with the members of the bipartisan Senate Gang of Eight, get ready to meet the Senate “Gang of Hate.”

With the Senate immigration mark-up set to kick off this week, new profiles by America’s Voice Education Fund shed light on key immigration reform opponents in the Senate – Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and David Vitter (R-LA)—and highlight their deep ties to anti-immigrant groups as well as their record on immigration reform and other issues.

On a press call today, America’s Voice Education Fund alongside fellow immigration advocates reviewed the profiles of the “Gang of Hate” and their accomplices and further previewed what we expect to see from these characters as the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares to take up the bipartisan Gang of Eight bill this week.

Aaron Patrick Flanagan, Director of Research at the Center for New Community, who played an instrumental role in compiling research for the profiles said, “What the research behind the ‘Gang of Hate’ profiles reflects is that, for years, these Senators have been content to represent a small cadre of anti-immigrant special interest groups—the Federation for American Immigration Reform, NumbersUSA, and the Center for Immigration Studies—in Washington, DC, but not the best-interests of their constituents. The ‘Gang of Hate’ is willing to conduct private business with anti-immigrant special interest groups by entertaining their lobbyists, adopting their messages, and utilizing their factually inaccurate research.”

In addition to the Senate “Gang of Hate” members, the profiles also highlight key allies and collaborators of the Senate “Gang of Hate.”  The Senators’ “brain trust” (or “drain trust”), includes Mark Krikorian, head of the anti-immigrant “think tank” Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and the intellectual author of self-deportation; Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State and author of the Arizona and Alabama “show me your papers” laws; Chris Crane, president of the ICE union who has spent the last several months complaining that President Obama’s prosecutorial discretion policies are harming his agents; former Senator and current Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint (R-SC); and finally, John Tanton, the father of the modern anti-immigrant movement.

Said Cesar Vargas, DREAMer and Director of DRM Action Coalition, “As DREAMers, we see a genuine effort by many Republicans to debate and finally resolve the issue of our outdated immigration system. But fringe voices like Senators Cruz, Sessions, Cornyn, Vitter, and Grassley have resorted to baseless attacks on immigrant and Latino families. Their main objective is to kill the bill. We are asking all Senators to not be naive and mark them for what they really are: obstructionist members of the ‘Gang of Hate.’”

As the Senate Judiciary Committee mark-up commences, all eyes will be on Republican leaders to see if they continue to forge a new way forward supported by the vast majority of the American people or let the “Gang of Hate” dominate the debate and derail reform.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund, “While the Senate ‘Gang of Hate’ is a playful designation that riffs off the Senate ‘Gang of Eight,’ there are serious policy issues at stake.  The named opponents of immigration reform not only want to scuttle the bill, they want policies that ramp up enforcement and block a path to immigration status and citizenship.  This adds up to ‘self-deportation,’ the radical position advanced by Mitt Romney and created by the anti-immigrant groups.  And self-deportation means making life so intolerable and impossible for undocumented immigrants and their legal relatives that those that don’t get picked up for deportation should pick up and self-deport.  This agenda, which is supported by a small percentage of Americans generally and conservatives specifically, does not represent who we are as a nation nor can it be allowed to thwart the best chance Congress has had in years to solve this problem once and for all.”