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The Shameful Republican Criminalization of the American Dream

The idea of punishing children for “sins of the father” is deeply rooted in four places in the Christian bible, but like many concepts in that archaic rule book, there are two contradictory citations that claim children will not suffer for their father’s transgressions. Since Republicans are fond of adhering to bible verses that negatively impact Americans, they have embraced the idea of holding children responsible for their parent’s actions that nativist Republicans have long considered a mortal sin; coming to America to seek a better life because as conservatives are wont to claim, America is an exceptional nation. America has needed comprehensive immigration reform for decades, but Republicans have sought out, fabricated, and lied to find any reason to avoid reform or work to find a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who come to America to either perform work slaving to provide food for the population and return home, or to build a better life for themselves and their families.

Many of the so-called “illegal aliens” living in America are children brought here by their parents through no fault of their own, attended American schools, mastered the English language, found gainful employment, and grew up to embrace America as their own even volunteering to serve, fight, and put their lives on the line in defense of this nation. These “Dreamers” as they are called, have suffered the wrath of Republicans whose idea of an exceptional America is deporting children, spouses, and veterans because someone in their family entered America without going through the proper channels and are regarded as undocumented. Last year, after seeing Republicans oppose any attempt to provide a path to citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants, President Obama announced on June 15, 2012, that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security “would not deport certain DREAM Act-eligible undocumented youth” and were granted temporary relief called “deferred action” in what DHS titled Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. On Thursday, while the Senate struggled to garner Republican support for comprehensive immigration reform, House Republicans voted to defund the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to emasculate the flexibility that allowed the DHS to halt deportations of “Dreamers” and instead focus on people convicted of crimes.

The amendment sponsored by anti-immigration, anti-gay, anti-Muslim, and anti-American congressman Steve King (R-IA), garnered votes from all but a handful of Republicans (6), including Eric Cantor who recently expressed support for the Dream Act but endorses deporting children “for the sins of the father.” King, who hates anyone in America who is not white, not Christian, not heterosexual, and not Republican has openly stated he will follow through on his intention to undermine any immigration reform effort, and it is the second time he has sponsored a similar amendment with nearly the same vote counts. The Republican measure is a portent that comprehensive immigration reform is all-but doomed, at least in the House where Republicans are taking their standard approach to anything and either opposing it outright like King, or pushing for a “piecemeal approach” of using the House Judiciary Committee to approve multiple immigration bills and send them to the full chamber for votes.

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The Republican’s lead man on the immigration issue, Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), has already made it perfectly clear he does not like the Senate bill despite saying he “doesn’t know what it contains or how it will work with the committee’s plans,” but he knows he does not like it. One of his concerns it that the Senate bill (not yet finished) “grants undocumented immigrants a provisional legal status before the border is fully secured,” and that it “is on a course, if it were adopted and put into law, to repeat the mistakes made in 1986.” Interestingly, the so-called “mistakes made in 1986” were Ronald Reagan’s, but since it is a cardinal sin to speak negatively of the GOP’s man-god, Goodlatte simply cited the date of the Reagan-era immigration law. Goodlatte’s piecemeal approach thus far is creating an agricultural guest-worker program, more visas for high-skilled immigrants, and a robust crack down on immigrants who overstay their visas that all serve big business interests and not immigrants or their children. One of the “pieces” missing from Goodlatte’s bills is a pathway to citizenship that few House Republicans will tolerate, and informs that whatever the Senate passes “the House is going to work its will on immigration” according to House Speaker John Boehner.

There has already been two Republicans, Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) who have found reasons to oppose any immigration reform and Labrador skipped out as a member of the House “gang of eight” tasked  with working out the lower chamber’s version of comprehensive reform. Labrador cannot comport reform over the idea of undocumented immigrants having access to the ACA as they are working toward becoming citizens. Mike Lee, took a different tack and compared the Senate’s efforts at reform to recent news that the Obama administration allegedly presided over a massive government surveillance program, and particularly noted the Bush-Republican Patriot Act as why he will not support a Senate immigration reform bill. According to Lee, the PATRIOT Act was a perfect example of  a “thousand-page bureaucratic overhaul that didn’t work,” and said the immigration bill would also have “unintended consequences.” Lee asked “Did the American people have any idea that the PATRIOT Act would empower the National Security Agency to spy on all Americans through their cell phones and computers? What makes any of us, least of all any conservative, believe this immigration bill is going to work out any better?” Lee’s idea to undo immigration reform is passing elements of the “Gang of Eight’s”  bill to make certain provisions like border security will pass, and others such as a pathway to citizenship will be omitted and his approach mirrors House Republicans who are opposed to immigration reform, but embrace ideas like a full-border fence, weaponized drones, and well-armed vigilantes patrolling the border looking for Mexicans to shoot in the Republican version of “immigration reform.”

Republicans have opposed immigration reform for decades and despite their claims to reach out to Hispanic voters, they still oppose comprehensive reform and have seized on a variety of phony reasons to maintain the status quo if not make it more difficult for “Dreamers” or undocumented immigrants to become citizens. Their loyalty to big business, whether it is corporate agriculture, hotel industry, meat-packing industry, or retail food service, will be the undoing of comprehensive reform to continue providing big business with cheap labor. Representative Goodlatte complained that the Senate Bill includes “a long pathway to citizenship,” and was extremely critical of proposals in the Senate bill that implemented a strengthened e-verify system for employers, and enhancements to border security including a way to document both entry and exit for immigrants doing seasonal farm work. Regardless of what the Senate bill finally looks like, there are enough Republicans who will find any reason to oppose reform whether it is complaining that al Qaeda trains Muslims to “act like Hispanics” and sneak across the border to commit acts of terror, or because the Republican Patriot Act turned out to have “unintended consequences.”

Republicans just cannot accept Hispanic immigrants wanting to live in America and House Republicans took an important step toward their vision of immigration reform by voting to deport undocumented Mexicans who were brought here by their parents, went to school, learned the language, worked and paid taxes, fought in Bush’s wars, and want nothing more than to be citizens of what was once an exceptional nation; especially for immigrants. However, as long as there are enough Republicans like Steve King, Mike Lee, Raul Labrador, and Louie Gohmert opposing immigration by foreigners who are not white, not Christian, not heterosexual, and not inclined to vote for Republicans, America will continue being far from exceptional.



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