Republicans Want an Immigration Reform Bill That is Laced With Bigotry

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When foreigners first came to America, Native Americans attempted to help them by sharing their bounty and certainly did not disparage them as illegal immigrants even though they were not invited. In 1903, a plaque was installed on the Statue of Liberty that did,  in a manner of speaking, invite and welcome millions who emigrated to America with the famous words, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Today, as the push for immigration reform takes shape, conservatives are attempting to put provisos on the invitation to immigrants and some are making it clear that not all immigrants are welcomed in America, and their latest objections are unrelated to terror threats or national security concerns.

Over the past week, the premiere conservative belief tank, the Heritage Foundation, has been criticized for their fear-mongering report on immigration that claims the legislation being crafted in the Senate will break the nation’s finances in a repeat of their 2007 opposition to immigration reform. Last November, Heritage co-founder and then-president Edwin J. Feulner told staffers that “We are the flagship conservative organization that carries on the Reagan legacy,” and it is curious why they are so opposed to immigration reform when their man-god Ronald Reagan “legalized illegal immigrants” who entered the U.S. before 1982 that gave a little over 3 million undocumented immigrants legal status Republicans now condemn.

In 2007, Heritage opposed comprehensive immigration reform, and one of the “scholars” at the belief tank argued for restricting immigration based on genetic IQ differences between white Europeans and people of color. The recently released Heritage report warning that America was financially doomed if immigration reform goes forward was a repeat of the 2007 report and its co-author, Jason Richwine, has taken heat for Heritage’s latest study and one has to wonder how much of Richwine’s opposition is based on his belief the genetic component (race) and IQ should be a factor in opposing a comprehensive reform package. According to Richwine, white European immigrants are smart enough to be welcomed in America, but brown and black immigrants should be kept out, and some Republicans are expressing the same sentiment towards gay immigrants.

As an amendment to the gang of eight’s attempt to craft comprehensive immigration reform, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy proposed allowing American citizens in long-term same-sex relationships to sponsor foreign partners for green cards. Republicans in the gang of eight said Leahy’s amendment will end any chance of reform before the bill even gets out of committee. According to gang member Jeff Flake (R-Ariz), “If that’s in the bill, that will kill the bill, this bill has got to get broad support to have a chance in the House, and with that provision it will not have broad support, and so I think that’s pretty much understood.” Leahy also filed an amendment exempting the immigration status of same-sex couples from the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) restrictions if a state or another country recognizes their unions that is certain to invoke opposition from Republicans in both houses of Congress.

One prominent Democratic political strategist said it would be a “moral outrage” if the Senate passed immigration legislation that discriminated against same-sex couples, and asked a question he already knows the answer to;  ”Since when do we separate a whole group of American citizens and say, ‘These rights apply to everyone, but not LGBT citizens.'” It is doubtful the political strategist, David Mixner, has been sequestered in a cave for the past two years, but besides opposing any kind of immigration reform, most Republicans oppose equal rights for all Americans; especially gays. In fact, Senator Flake is probably right that even though most House Republicans will oppose any reform legislation, including provisions  for same-sex relationships makes the entire enterprise impossible and that is the point.

So far, there have been more than 300 proposed changes filed by members of the Judiciary panel, and none were meant to make passing reform easier. Already, conservatives are exerting pressure on Republicans to oppose any path to citizenship and extending the same rights to LGBT citizens, or exempting them from the Defense of Marriage Act’s prohibitions will be more than enough reason for most Republicans to oppose reform, and that is just in the Senate. If, by some miracle, the Senate does pass a reform bill there is little chance it will get through the House regardless if gays are discriminated against or not. Shortly after the Boston  marathon bombing, a phalanx of Islamophobes came out in opposition to reform because, among other reasons, they are worried al-Qaeda terrorists will “do Hispanic things” to sneak across the border, commit acts of terror, and kill innocent Americans.

It is highly unlikely that immigration reform will ever pass and there is only one reasonable explanation; bigotry. Whether it is bias against brown-skinned people because a Heritage scholar thinks they are too stupid to be allowed in America, or faux fears of radical Islamic terrorists and gays destroying America, conservatives are intent on keeping America white. Part of the reason too, is that non-white Americans tend to vote for  Democrats and it is curious indeed that after losing the last election because they openly demeaned people of color, Republicans are still clinging to the policies that cost them the minority vote. Branding Latinos as less intelligent than white immigrants, and openly discriminating against gays belies the Republican Party’s outreach, but old habits die hard; especially when they are firmly rooted in white pride and homophobia.

It remains to be seen, or explained, why the Heritage Foundation is opposed to immigration reform, but with teabagger hero Jim DeMint at the helm, there is little doubt there will be more fear-mongering and pressure on Republicans to oppose reform. One thing is perfectly clear though, conservatives do not intend to allow any immigration reform without a fight, and that includes hardline conservative fighting Republicans fearful of minority electorate backlash if they do not support immigration legislation. Hopefully, since the Heritage Foundation believes it is “the flagship conservative organization that carries on the Reagan legacy,” they will embrace his legacy and harken back to his Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 when he gave amnesty to over 3 million undocumented immigrants. When Reagan left office, he said America was a nation “teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace,” and that “the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here;” a sentiment Republicans would impeach him for today.

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