LatinaLista — Why has immigration reform failed so miserably in Congress?
Why has the term “immigrant” evolved into such a piranha that Congressional representatives will distance themselves from it?
Why does there exist a fanaticism against the immigration issue, not outside the halls of Congress but within its very corridors?
Though the extreme right-wing bloggers would love to take all the credit, come to find out it’s not them who are purposely setting up the roadblocks and getting the 11th hour changes of heart from Congressional members who previously were supportive of immigration reform measures.
And as much credit is given to the “American People” as some Congressional representatives repeatedly like to cite, it’s common knowledge that the American People don’t have and never had anywhere near the kind of influence that is responsible for derailing action on immigration reform.
So who is it that has this kind of influence and unprecedented access to our Congress and system of government?
It’s our Congress, or to be more exact, 110 members of the House of Representatives who make up the largest ideological caucus in our government known as the Immigration Reform Caucus.
In new report released today by the Building Democracy Initiative titled Nativism in the House, the existence of the Immigration Reform Caucus is revealed with an in-depth analysis of this all-white, highly influential group which coincidentally (written sarcastically) was the brainchild of Rep. Tom Tancredo â€” the subject of Latina Lista’s post yesterday.
While it would be easy to dismiss this report since it comes from a group obviously sympathetic to the resolution of the immigration issue, it must be acknowledged that the report deals with facts that were easily obtainable through public records kept on voting practices, precinct demographics, bill sponsorships, and of course, information on the Caucus’ own web site.
In looking at this documentation, the report’s researchers uncovered some very disturbing points:
* Despite Caucus members’ focus on strict border control and harsh anti-immigrant legislation, the median Hispanic population is only 4% in caucus members’ districts. Although it is assumed that nativist and anti-immigrant politics are driven by economic resentment, most HIRC members are not elected from districts that share a common demographic or economic character.
* While vocally supportive of American workers, 86 out of the Caucus’s 110 members scored zero in support of workers’ rights, as measured by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
* The overwhelming majority of HIRC members are from the furthest, hardest edge of the Republican Party’s rightwing, only eight are Democrats, and the Caucus claims no African-American or Hispanic members. Many also regularly vote against civil rights and civil liberties concerns.
* Notwithstanding the Caucus’ political character, its members have received campaign contributions from a surprisingly wide range of sources, including ones not typically associated with anti-immigrant policies such as AT&T, the American Medical Association, and Home Depot. In addition, Caucus members receive funding from nativist sources such as the Minuteman PAC as well as from ultra-conservative sources such as the Eagle Forum and the Club for Growth.
* The election of Rep. Brian Bilbray as the HIRC chairman is likely to cement the already symbiotic relationship between fringe anti-immigrant advocacy groups and caucus members. Rep. Bilbray is himself a former lobbyist for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a controversial anti-immigrant organization that holds questionable ties to white nationalist and nativist groups. Likewise, the former HIRC director is now working at FAIR as a Government Relations Associate.
* Most recently, HIRC members have begun to actively promote legislation aimed at gutting the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which is the amendment that granted African-Americans full suffrage following the civil war. As of the time of the report’s printing, 90 members of the House of Representatives signed on as co-sponsors to legislation aimed at nullifying the Fourteenth Amendment’s “birthright” provision.
From all outward appearances: bills sponsored, political rhetoric, voting patterns, organizational affiliations, this group has more in common with the Ku Klux Klan than a mere caucus promoting a benign political cause.
In fact, by calling themselves the Immigration Reform Caucus (IRC), they deflect any hint that their agenda relies heavily on extremism, racism and ethnic oppression rather than actively working to find a true solution that benefits all Americans.
By hiding behind the IRC name, they don’t alarm anyone â€” voters or their fellow Congressional representatives â€” that such an extremist group has infiltrated the very halls of our government. They are merely seen as another special interest group that feels strongly about their cause.
Yet, what is different about this group is that they are not outsiders looking in â€” they are insiders, passing bad information under the guise of doing it for the American people.