Wednesday, July 19, 2006

"Faux Hearings" arrive in Washington

This week, House Republicans are holding a series of hearings in Washington about immigration reform or, as they are now simply calling it, "border security."

The House Republicans created a new name for the Senate bill which until a few weeks ago was known as the "Hagel-Martinez Compromise Bill" (both are Republican senators, by the way, and two of the orginal authors Specter and McCain are also Republicans). Now anti-legalization Republicans think they can rile up the public by calling it the "Reid-Kennedy Amnesty Bill" (after the Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and Senator Ted Kennedy). They repeat it several times in their flyer for the hearings (what was that saying about if you repeat a lie often enough, people start to believe it?).

Tuesday's hearing, titled "Do the Reid-Kennedy bill's amnesty provisions repeat the mistakes of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986?" didn't turn out quite the way the Republicans had hoped. The New York Times reported that the "results were decidedly mixed."

One of the four panelists, Phyllis Schlafly (Phyllis Schlafly, an expert on immigration?!) asserted that President Bush had betrayed Americans by supporting the Senate bill's plan for legalization. "The American people are not willing to be cheated again," she said referencing the 1986 amnesty bill.

The NY Times also reported that another witness, dismissed the hearing as "a waste of time," and one Republican on the subcommittee, Representative Jeff Flake of Arizona, called the session a "faux hearing" at a time when, he said, the two houses should be in negotiations to reconcile their differing approaches.

Three panelists (including Ms. Schlafly, Steven A. Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, and
James R. Edwards Jr. of the Hudson Institute) said that they were not for mass deportations. "Nobody is calling for deporting large numbers of people," Ms. Schlafly said under questioning by Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California. (Oops, Congresswoman Waters should have said "SELF-deport", which is what anti-immigrant advocates are hoping for...since after all it's much cheaper).

ACTION STEP: On the GOP (Republican) Border Security Website, the party is asking for the public's to "Share your stories or concerns about border security". Send them an e-mail at and tell them that you agree with Jeff Flake that these are "faux hearings" and that they need to get back to the work of true comprehensive immigration reform. Ask them to drop the anti-immigrant rhetoric and tell them to recognize the contributions of all immigrants, documented and not. You could also call the party at 202-225-5107 or also e-mail them at