Little Rock There’s something about the dog days of summer that seem to bring the crazy out. Unfortunately we’re seeing this once again in the Congressional cloakroom resurgence of the Tea Party representatives, even as the Tea Party’s electoral and public support plummets, and once again the bone their gnawing is the crippled immigration system.
You know it’s out of hand when someone like Carlos Gutierrez, a former Commerce Department secretary under former President George W. Bush says,
“When you put Raúl Labrador, Steve King and Michele Bachmann together writing an immigration bill, there’s damage done, no question,”
He was referring to the fact that far right, conservative Congressman Steve Scalise, Republican from Louisiana, and the newly elected #3 in the Republican caucus opened the door and let his fellow whacks have a shot at modifying the bills being crafted to deal with the humanitarian crisis of Central American children fleeing to the US border for safety from conditions in their home countries. As reported in the Times,
The changes opponents sought were subtle: clearer language showing that the bill was raising the bar on granting asylum hearings to unaccompanied children at the border, and a more explicit bill phasing out Mr. Obama’s executive order granting legal status to some immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, an order known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.
Regardless, Mr. Gutierrez said, political damage was done. Complexities of immigration law that slip by most of the American news media remain front and center on Spanish television, where news figures such as Jorge Ramos advocate immigration overhaul positions, he said. And little-known lawmakers like Mr. King and Mr. Brooks are not so obscure among Latinos.
Just days after helping write the House’s only immigration policy bill of the year, Mr. Brooks made waves again when he spoke of a “war on whites that’s being launched by the Democratic Party” to the conservative radio show host Laura Ingraham. Mr. King was caught on tape grabbing the arm of a young immigrant who grew up in Arizona and was granted legal status by the president’s order. “You’re very good at English, you know what I’m saying?” he told the immigrant, a graduate of Arizona State University.
Mr. Gutierrez said: “We have destroyed tens of thousands of young lives, people who don’t speak Spanish, who have lived their whole lives here, who want to be productive members of society, and now Steve King is rewriting DACA? I just think that is a real shame.”
On the other side of the aisle we now have Senator and Republican presidential aspirant, Mark Rubio, threatening that they may try to stand in the way of any movement by President Obama to address either the border crisis or the broken immigration system, by refusing to approve the budget this fall, if the President takes action, essentially promising another painful government shutdown. The GAO estimates the financial costs of this last Republican charade as $17 billion dollars. There is now a waiting list in immigration courts of over 375,000 cases. There are millions of families caught betwixt and between. Arkansas Democratic Senator Mark Pryor and others in tight races for November are pleading for the President to do nothing until after the mid-term elections for their sakes, even though the President has promised action soon, and could lose the Senate then, even further damaging any opportunity for change.
Once again currying to the right wing radicals and lack of political leadership is creating legislative and political gridlock and putting a chokehold on widespread human rights issues effecting millions as well as the entire character and global position of the United States as a beacon of freedom and justice. It’s hard to embrace good policy options when the choices are either the devil or the deep blue sea, but that’s what the Tea People and their allies are forcing, and this looks like a bluff that simply has to be called.