If one were looking for a prime example of government by mean-spirit, the U.S. House of Representatives provided one earlier this week.
Passing an “anti-immigration” amendment sponsored by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), the House has voted to defund presidential orders that allow immigration enforcement officials to focus deportation efforts on illegal immigrants who have been convicted of crimes.
According to a Stephens Media Washington Bureau report, six Republicans opposed the measure, while only three Democrats supported it.
King told reporters that the policies promoted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton grant administrative amnesty to illegal aliens. He went on to effectively admit that the bill was largely an attempt to thwart President Obama, saying “If this position holds, no amnesty will reach the President’s desk.”
Predicatably, all of Arkansas’ Congressional representatives voted in support of King’s measure. Rep. Tim Griffin parroted King’s slap at Obama, saying “Changes in the law should come from Congress, not by the stroke of the executive’s pen.”
According the Stephens report, Mireya Rieth, executive director of the Arkansas United Community Coalition, characterized the amendment as misguided. Her organization contends that the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency should have discretion to focus enforcement efforts on individuals that pose a public safety or national security threat — not families and students.
Under the “deferred action for childhood arrivals” policy, about 3,000 so-called “Dreamers” (undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. at a young age by their parents) in Arkansas have benefited with another 6,000 qualifying, Rieth said.
Concurrently, the AUCC issued a statement clearly directed toward Arkansas’ Congressional delegation: “While the House’s action today is a message bill that will likely not become law, it is exactly the wrong message to send, and shows that Arkansas congressmen are out of tune with the priorities of many Arkansas voters, who are already committed to voting in 2014 and demonstrating once again that immigration reform is a priority.”
Of course the unavoidable large brown elephant in the room concerns something no one on the Republican side of the aisle wants to admit — most of the people affected by this amendment aren’t sneaking in from Scandinavia. Rather, they are meandering in from Central and South America.
If the topic were broached in such callous terms, the Congressmen would recoil in deftly feigned horror, but that doesn’t alter the demographic reality of it.
With a demonstrable predilection to ignore history — even recent history — you’d think their dogmatism wouldn’t be so opaque. Take for example the “good” people of Alabama, who, in their zeal to rid the state of the brown scourge, found themselves with rotting farm crops because no “decent” native-born American would submit themselves to stoop-shouldered, blistering hot field work. As one Alabama farmer observed, “Money didn’t matter… they just wouldn’t do it.”
Of course the current proposal is about more than cheap tomato picking. It’s a about preserving families — even families with troubled members. Most centrally, it is about finding a way to fairly process illegal immigrant offenders without concomitantly punishing their wholly innocent children.
One question: Did Republicans not learn anything from the last presidential election when 71 percent of Hispanic voters cast ballots for Obama and only 27 percent for Mitt Romney? There was a lot of hand-wringing after the election as to how Republicans needed to re-embrace Hispanics. This move, on the other hand, seems to be coming from the old playbook.