Republican Leadership Betrays Base By Blocking Immigration Amendments

After the Republican victories in 2010, I wrote that, while House Leader John Boehner tends to do the right thing when pushed, “Boehner clearly would like to ignore immigration as much as possible.” [Is John Boehner believable on immigration?, November 5, 2010]

Unfortunately, the House of Representatives` failure to vote on two important immigration-related amendments to the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act (HR 1) is a bad sign that my fears may have been prescient.

Would it have stopped the lawsuit?

No. It would not pass the Democratic-controlled Senate, and if by some miracle it did, Obama would have vetoed it. Of course, a truly brave and united Republican House could threaten a government shutdown if the Administration had continued the lawsuit—but such a bold step is unlikely for the usual ignominious reasons.

And, needless to say, there would be other well-funded plaintiffs, such as the ACLU, MALDEF, and Latino Justice, who would continue the suit in the absence of the Obama administration.

But Amendment 112 was still vitally important.

As I have written time and time again, Arizona`s SB 1070 has become the symbol of immigration enforcement in the nation. Arizona is being demonized by the Left and the MainStream Media as an anomalous “rogue state” that does not represent the country on immigration. The failure, thus far, of any other state to pass a copycat law unfortunately reinforces this lying narrative. But if the majority of the House of Representatives had voted to say that they oppose Obama`s scandalous lawsuit against the state, that would have sent a message that Arizona is not alone.

Alas, Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA) offered a point of order saying that the Amendment constituted legislation and could not be added to an appropriations bill. (More on that later). This objection was sustained by the chair of the appropriations committee Hal Rogers (R-KY)

  • Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) offered Amendment 225 which would have put a one-year moratorium on the Diversity Visa Lottery.

Each year, the U.S. grants 50,000 visas based on a lottery system to a variety of countries, now mostly Third World. The concept behind the lottery: because our post-1965 immigration system is primarily based on “family reunification”, chain migration cannot begin until there are a few anchors to sponsor their extended families. Then they can shoulder everyone else aside, which is why the bulk of our legal immigrant populations originates from a few random countries in Latin America and Asia. This was not sufficiently diverse for Senator Edward Kennedy, who wanted more Irish, so in 1986 the “Diversity Immigrant Visa” began to give visas by lottery to immigrants from countries that sent few immigrants to America, with a proportion originally reserved for Ireland. Natives of the major immigrant sending countries, such as China, Mexico, and El Salvador, Vietnam, and Canada are ineligible for the lottery. It`s still regularly referred to on the Hill as “the Irish program”, although only 201 visas were awarded to Ireland in 2011.

The Visa Lottery supposedly alleviates the desperate shortage of immigrants from Nairobi and Yemen and makes our immigration policy even more “diverse” than it already is, with immigrants who can sponsor their extended family members and get chain migration started. It has enriched the American mosaic by providing green cards to immigrants like Hesham Mohamed Hedayet, who shot up LAX Airport, and Moroccan Karim Koubriti, who was convicted of starting a sleeper terrorist cell in Detroit less than a week after 9-11.

Notwithstanding the stupidity of randomly handing out green cards to people from the least developed countries in the world, and regardless of national security concerns, the mere fact that the U.S. has 9% unemployment is reason enough to stop giving 50,000 additional work permits for not reason whatsoever each year.

Of course, the U.S. issues 1.1 million legal visas each year, so cutting the 50,000 visas for one year is hardly enough. However, with literally no discussion of cutting legal immigration since the jobs recession began, even a baby step like suspending the Diversity Lottery was an important first step towards getting the reduction of legal immigration back into the national conversation.

Any immigration patriot signed up for action alerts from groups like Team America PAC, FAIR, Numbers USA, and CAPS would have received nearly a dozen e-mails last week informing them that there would be a vote on Wednesday, then Thursday, and then Friday or the weekend…and then they would finally have heard that the Republican House Leadership cut off voting on all Amendments before the Goodlatte Amendment came to the floor.

In a February 18 blog post at NumbersUSA, Roy Beck notes that his lobbyists tell him not to read too much into the failure to vote on the immigration Amendments—presumably because hundreds were introduced and Congress was voting until midnight day after day and needed to recess.

Beck himself, however, was suspicious. He noted that, for the past four years, Democrats tried to avoid any immigration votes until the lame duck DREAM Act—but at the same time

“Republican leaders [when they were the] congressional minority also didn`t want any immigration votes because they felt voting for less immigration would be too controversial and hurt their Members` chances of re-election. Lobbyists and strategists from the George Bush wing of the Party have the ear of Republican congressional leaders and what they say is what you would expect to hear from George Bush who continues to say that failure to pass the mass amnesty and foreign worker increase was one of the biggest disappointments of his Presidency.

“So both Democratic and Republican congressional leaders have engaged in a conspiracy of silence on immigration issues, for the most part. Is that what happened this week? It looks like it. But I can`t prove it.”

I am inclined to agree with Beck`s suspicions. Yes, there were a lot of amendments, but the Republican leadership allowed votes on over 150 Amendments on issues such as Defunding Planned Parenthood (Amendment 95) and banning the military from advertising at NASCAR events (Amendment 92.)

Also, the point of order raised against the Poe Amendment dealing with legislation was very questionable. The House voted on Amendments prohibiting funds for the EPA to use (Amendment 101), or effectively denying funding to Obamacare (Amendments 102, 103, 104, 105  and 106), which would seem in effect to constitute legislation as well. The Appropriations Committee chairman who agreed to block the Poe Amendment, Republican Hal Rogers, used to be one of the leaders in fighting mass immigration in the 1990s. But he has done nothing in the last several years after he rose to a leadership position within the GOP.

Plus, as I acknowledged above, the Amendment would not have survived reconciliation and was more of a symbolic statement of support towards Arizona—so any legal or parliamentary concerns would have been moot.

In the 2008 and 2010 elections, many patriotic immigration reform activists told me that was very difficult to run against freshman and sophomore Democrats on immigration because of the “conspiracy of silence” that Beck spoke of. No immigration votes had come to the floor, so it was difficult to point to any tangible bad actions by these Democrats.

The Democrats did hand Republicans some useful political ammunition with the lame duck DREAM Act Amnesty vote. But if Republicans had any brains, they would systematically force the Democrats to take positions against patriotic immigration reform.

Incidentally, the same day the Republicans blocked the immigration votes, Rasmussen released a poll on immigration. Once again, voters supported an Arizona style immigration law in their state by over a 2-1 margin. When asked “If State Believes Feds Are Not Enforcing Immigration Laws Should They Have Right To Enforce on Their Own? ” voters answered in the Affirmative by a 67-22 margin.

Significantly, Independent voters overwhelming agreed with both propositions supporting them by a 57-25% and 74%-18% margin respectively. And Republicans were virtually unanimous. with 87% believing states can enforce their immigration laws and only 5% disagreeing; and 77% wanting an Arizona style immigration law in their state and only 5-10% opposing one. [67% Say States Should Be Able To Enforce Immigration Laws If Feds Are Not, Rasmussen Reports, February 18, 2011 (breakdown by party for subscribers only)]

Unfortunately, that 5%-10% minority of the Republican Party consists of corporate funders, libertarian ideologues, and boneheaded political consultants. And they are apparently all Congressional Republican leadership (J. Boehner, chief culprit) cares to listen to.

“Washington Watcher” [email him] is an anonymous source Inside The Beltway.