Strike 1: Passing King Amendment to Deport DREAMers; Strike 2: Tomorrow’s Mark Up of a Judiciary Committee Bill to Criminalize Immigrants; Strike 3: If the House Blocks Immigration Reform for the Year
Understandably, most of the recent attention regarding immigration reform has focused on the Democrat-controlled Senate, where it appears that a strong bipartisan majority will approve the Gang of Eight bill by the end of the month. Unfortunately, in the Republican-controlled House, it seems the opponents of broad reform are gaining momentum at the expense of their leadership’s stated interest in passing broad reform as a way of helping the GOP become more electorally competitive.
Two weeks ago the House passed an amendment sponsored by anti-immigrant zealot Rep. Steve King (R-IA) that would defund the successful and popular DREAMer deferred action program and threaten DREAMers with deportation. The vote, which was mostly party line, was greeted with an unusual chorus of boos from Democrats in the chamber. It stunned advocates, since DREAMers are the most powerful and popular group of undocumented immigrants and many House leaders have expressed a desire to see them gain permanent legal status.
Tomorrow, the House Judiciary Committee will mark up the SAFE Act–Draconian anti-immigrant legislation that was recently introduced by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC). According to the New York Times, the SAFE Act would “turn millions of those [undocumented] immigrants into criminals overnight.” The bill is a disturbing homage to the worst immigration policy approaches of recent years in that it criminalizes immigrants like the infamous Sensenbrenner bill of 2005, encourages racial profiling like the Arizona “show me your papers” law and harkens back to the discredited Mitt Romney strategy of “self-deportation”.
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
At this point, the hard right faction in the House GOP that opposes immigration reform is in the driver’s seat. The question is, when will House Republican leadership take the reins and find a way to enact common sense reform? There’s still time, but not much. House Republicans’ vote to deport DREAMers was strike one; the House Judiciary Committee’s vote for the SAFE Act will be strike two; and if they block the broad reform once the Senate acts, it will be strike three for the GOP. If they strike out, the Republican brand with Latino and immigrant voters will go from damaged to doomed.