The GOP is ‘the party of maximum deportations’

The Arizona Republic today once again editorializes that Congress needs to pass an immigration reform bill this year. Fan the glimmers of immigration hopeOur View: Reform could emerge from Congress in late summer. Let’s press to ensure it does:

Image: Latinos protest in favor of comprehensive immigration reform while on West side of Capitol Hill in WashingtonAs the Senate-passed reform bill creeps toward its first birthday in June, the House continues to insist the omnibus approach won’t work. OK. So break it up.

Utah’s Rep. Mike Lee, a staunch tea party Republican, said recently that “most” House Republicans favor some sort of reform — as long as it is done piecemeal and “step-by-step.”

A piecemeal approach can work. Step-by-step is problematic if it means cherry picking the popular stuff.

Legalizing the current undocumented population remains the most contentious issue. It can’t be left out. A solution could coalesce around legalization that falls short of creating a special path to citizenship.

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Most of all, Congress needs to pass reform. House Republicans should build on the glimmers of hope and produce a bill that moves the nation — and their party — forward.

Did you catch that? The Arizona Republic wants legalization without a pathway to citizenship. What really matters to them is moving the Republican Party forward.

The position advanced by Arizona Republican Party National Committeeman Bruce Ash in an RNC resolution last year is to create an underclass not eligible to enjoy the privileges and immunities of full citizenship. The resolution was adopted by the Republican National Committee last summer. Arizona GOP leads anti-immigrant stance of the RNC (key provisions):

RESOLVED, that the Republican National Committee calls upon the President and Congress to create a new class of work permit that allows illegal immigrants who were brought into our country as minor children, and who have not violated any other laws of the U.S. to come forward and register and be allowed to remain and work in the U. S. This new class of legal worker permit holders will not result in an application for citizenship or to petition citizenship for family members. The work permit will require renewal every five (5) years and will require proof of employment or attendance in school during that period; and, be it finally committee calls in the President and Congress to create a new work permit.

RESOLVED, that the Republican National program that will allow foreign nationals who are currently in the country and have not violated any other laws of the U.S. to come forward and register and be allowed to remain and work in the U.S. The work permit will not result in application for citizenship nor any family members entering the U.S. and will require renewal every two years upon proof of continuous employment with no more than (2) months per two (2) year period unemployed or convicted of a crime.

You can read into this that should a member of this underclass be convicted of a crime, or be unemployed at the time of renewal of their temporary work permit, they will be subject to deportation. For the DREAMers, this would mean deportation to a country they have never known — they would be exiled to be a stranger in a strange land. For the disabled or retired, would they be eligible for social security and Medicare that they paid into? Who knows.

I happened to catch Bruce Ash on AZ Illustrated: Friday, May 2, 2014, and per usual, he was unhinged. In discussing immigration reform, Ash actually claimed that Democrats are to blame for there not being an immigration bill passed by the Tea-Publican controlled House, because Democrats insist on a pathway to citizenship.

I would remind this xenophobic nativist responsible for the RNC resolution above that a bipartisan majority of U.S. Senators, including Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, support a pathway to citizenship. As does a large majority of Americans. In Report, 63% Back Way to Get Citizenship – NYTimes.com (November 2013).

Ash in his comments revealed what this is really all about: citizenship would mean they gain the right to vote, and he does not want to see 11 million potential new voters, many of whom identify with the Democratic Party.

So let’s be clear: The Arizona Republic, the media arm of the Arizona Republican Party, and the National Republican Committee are all opposed to a pathway to citizenship. They will concede no more than a temporary work permit status that has to be renewed every few years, and leaves an underclass subject to the constant threat of deportation. And the Republic dares to call this “moving forward.”

Greg Sargent of the Washington Post gets it exactly right: the GOP is “the party of maximum deportations.” The GOP’s real position on immigration, laid bare:

Republicans face a very simple dilemma on immigration: Either they embrace reform, or they are inescapably the party of maximum deportations.

As you know, I’ve been making the case that this is the choice Republicans face. But now we have a senior House Republican essentially confirming it for us.

The Republican in question — GOP Rep. Bob Goodlatte — didn’t put it that way, of course. But in an interview with Univision Jorge Ramos that aired yesterday, he inescapably revealed that to be the case, and in the process, he made real news.

Ramos repeatedly pressed Goodlatte to explain why it is that House Republicans refuse to act on immigration reform. Goodlatte repeatedly claimed the problem is that Republicans can’t trust Obama to enforce the law, as evidenced by the fact that deportations from the interior have dropped. Goodlatte explicitly said the problem is that only people convicted of serious crimes are getting deported from the interior.

Ramos then pressed Goodlatte on whether this means Republicans want to see more deportations from the interior. Goodlatte — who as chair of the House Judiciary Committee is a key player on immigration — refused to answer directly:

BOB GOODLATTE: That is the problem.  Only people who committed serious crimes.

JORGE RAMOS: So your point is that you want more people to be deported?

BG: My point is that I want the President to enforce the law, and that way Congress will feel the pressure to reach a resolution to deal with the people who are lawfully here, who have been law abiding citizens. And if they meet the terms that the law might provide, like paying taxes and paying a fine, and learning civics about the United States, and other things like that, we could reach a solution.  But if the President keeps showing that he won’t enforce current law, then we’re going to have this ongoing problem where people in the Congress don’t trust that.  And that creates a problem for me.  Trying to convince my fellow members to do it.

This is how Republicans have boxed themselves in on this issue: They’ve defined “enforcing the law” as maximizing deportations from the interior, no matter who gets removed. It’s true that removals from the interior have dropped under Obama. But that reflects the fact that the administration is prioritizing removals of people caught crossing the border, which have gone up, and has deprioritized the removal of certain classes from the interior. By defining that shift in priorities as a failure to enforce the law, and claiming this as the chief obstacle to moving forward with their own proposals to legalize the 11 million, Republicans have effectively defined their policy stance as follows: Obama is not deporting enough low level offenders with lives here, so therefore we won’t embrace any form of legal status for them.

Goodlatte can’t admit to this directly, of course. But  Goodlatte’s interview serves as a reminder that the real obstacle to reform is that Republicans are not yet willing to embrace any form of legalization for the 11 million under any circumstances. Jeb Bush’s recent comments about immigration were controversial precisely because they constituted a moral challenge to Republicans to find a way to accept legal status for the 11 million. Indeed, Goodlatte himself suggests that legalization for the 11 million is the goal — while implicitly acknowledging that Republicans can’t support this because not enough of them currently living and working here are getting deportedIt’s a nonsensical position, but that is inescapably their stance, and it’s good to have this demonstrated so graphically by a senior Republican.

The xenophobic nativist base of the GOP is holding the party hostage to their fears about the “browning” of America, and the eventual decline of their white privilege. How Republicans Became the White Man’s Party.

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