Inch by Inch, Hearing by Hearing: A Look Ahead at the GOP’s Immigration Agenda

tape measureShortly after Republicans gained a majority in the House after midterm elections, many attempted to predict the Republican game plan on immigration—which, as you can imagine, was no herculean task considering the GOP’s three-ring enforcement spectacular these last few years. Recall also the recent Republican opposition to the DREAM Act, opposition they rationalized using the “border first” mantra. But as the 112th Congress convenes this week, we get an actual look at upcoming congressional committee hearings and what they might reveal about Republican leaderships’ plans for immigration—namely, a statewide approach to ramped-up enforcement measures, more border security and an attack on the 14th amendment.

As immigration hawk Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) assumes control of the House Judiciary Committee this month and Rep. Steve King (R-IA) the Immigration Subcomittee, many rightfully predict that plans for broad immigration reform will take a backseat to intense scrutiny of the administration’s approach to immigration enforcement and a focus on statewide enforcement measures. According to Politico:

Smith’s first two hearings will focus on expanding E-Verify, a voluntary electronic system for checking the immigration status of workers that President Barack Obama supports and scrutinizing the administration’s record on worksite enforcement.

In the same article, Rep. Smith reportedly downplayed agenda items such as reducing the level of legal immigration, family migration or work visas and instead said he wanted to focus on “creating and protecting jobs.”

Meanwhile, soon-to-be chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, Rep. Peter King (R-NY), reportedly intends to “hold hearings, push bills and seek funding to bolster the fight against illegal immigration,” which includes an emphasis on workplace raids and enforcement programs like Secure Communities. Rep. King cited a “lack of urgency” by the current administration as the impetus for his hyped immigration enforcement agenda.

On the state level, Arizona lawmakers Sen. Russell Pearce and Rep. John Kavanagh will join State Representative Daryl Metcalfe (R-PA) and state legislators from around the country this week in Washington to create and disseminate model legislation repealing the 14th Amendment—the amendment which affirms that, with very few exceptions, all persons born in the U.S. are U.S. citizens, regardless of the immigration status of their parents. Aside from questions of constitutionality, Rep. Kavanagh said that this birthright citizenship proposal will not detract from a focus on the state’s flailing economy.

The budget and jobs will be the No. 1 priority, but we’ll still be able to deal with a lot of other important issues like illegal immigration.

Right. Maybe state Rep. Kavanagh momentarily forgot that Arizona’s SB1070 ended up costing Arizona hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue. Likewise, while Rep. Lamar Smith and state Rep. Kavanagh both claim their intentions are to prioritize economic recovery and job growth, one wonders how they rationalize the fact that expansion of enforcement measures like E-Verify would actually hurt the economy—to the tune of $10 billion a year according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as well as a decrease in federal revenues.

But then, revitalizing the economy and growing jobs are never part of the equation when it comes to ramped-up state and federal immigration enforcement measures. Hopefully, most Americans recognize that these enforcement initiatives are neither growing our economy nor solving our immigration problems.

Seth Hoy

Republished from Immigration Impact.


  1. MyLeftMind says

    Right. Maybe state Rep. Kavanagh momentarily forgot that Arizona’s SB1070 ended up costing Arizona hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue. …one wonders how they rationalize the fact that expansion of enforcement measures like E-Verify would actually hurt the economy…

    Illegal immigration is what costs states like Arizona money, not their attempts to STOP illegal immigration. Border state taxpayers are already losing millions of dollars to illegal aliens who steal our resources. But you make fun of them for trying to solve the problems they face. Worse, Seth, you promote policies that encourage even more illegal immigration, such as the Dream Act that would be a dream for illegal aliens and big corporations, but just another nightmare amnesty program the taxpayers will have to fund. That amnesty policy will definitely encourage many more parents to drag there kids into this country illegally so they can pull on the heartstrings of liberals again and compete against our kids for jobs and seats in universities across the nation.

    Meanwhile, liberals are completely ignoring all the kids whose parents didn’t sneak them into our country. What about those kids, why are they a lower priority than illegal aliens? The only sad thing about this it’s going to take Republican control of Congress to stop foreigners from stealing our resources. Very sad.

  2. dr. o says

    A nation without borders is no longer a nation…

    We are a nation of laws…
    Entering the country illegally is against the law…
    The fact that you have evaded the law by being in the country for years does not erase the crime…

    The law requires that all violators of our border laws be arrested, tried, and if convicted, deported…
    Anyone who attempts to subvert the law is also a law breaker…

    A mildly bright Second Grader can understand this… It is amazing to me the mental contortions that these so called ‘liberals’ go through to justify their subversion of the law…

  3. David Bacon says

    You do a good job of criticizing Republican support for immigration enforcement. But what about the fact that the Obama administration just deported 400,000 people last year, the largest number in our history? Or that it required the firing of thousands of workers, using the brutal justification that if people can’t work and support their families, they’ll deport themselves? What kind of economic recovery goes along with firing thousands of workers and deporting families?

    The truth is that Democratic Senators, Congress members, and DC lobbying groups have supported immigration reform bills for the last decade that contained just that kind of enforcement. How can they say that kind of enforcement is ok when they’re proposing a bill, and then condemn it when it’s implemented in practice, or when the Republicans propose more extreme versions?

    The alternative to the policies you criticize isn’t coming from Democrats in DC, with some very honorable exceptions, like Sheila Jackson Lee. It’s coming from grassroots groups and unions across the country who are supporting immigration reform based on human and labor rights, like the Dignity Campaign, and who reject the politics behind those big enforcement plus guest worker bills.

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