Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Partisan spinning of the field hearings

If you want to see a prime example of partisan political use of immigration, listen in on the House Republicans' Policy Committee which held an Immigration Forum on Tuesday, the day after the fifth anniversary of the September 11 tragedy. (See C-SPAN the second item on this page.) The committee met to discuss what they supposedly learned from the summer series of field hearings around the country which they claim helped them hear the concerns of the American people.

As the National Immigration Forum noted, "[Congress] did not "hear" from the public, or from anyone who would present a reasonable solution to the immigration mess. Instead, they came to tell us that immigrants are bad, that the Senate bill is bad, and that they are in no mood to listen to anyone who would disagree with their enforcement-only approach." The best example of this was Rep. Charlie Norwood, Republican of Georgia: "What I wanted was witnesses who agree with me, not disagree with me." So what did House representatives learn at these hearings that they didn't already "know"?

At Tuesday's forum, House Speaker Dennis Hastert said ''The state of our borders is a security crisis.'' The American people want, he said, ''immediate, targeted legislation specifically designed to secure the border, protect our homeland and vigorously enforce our immigration laws.'' Hastert said the field hearings solidified his opposition to the Senate legislation, which he continues to call the "Reid-Kennedy" or "Democratic" bill. This is blatant re-writing of the facts since it was a bi-partisan effort that was lead by Republican senators Martinez and Hagel.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., in a telephone news conference with the Associated Press simply said ''This is a political game.''

For more on the Policy Committee Immigration Forum, listen to the story on National Public Radio.