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  • Anti-immigration Bill Pits Jewish GOPers Against House Hard-liners

    News

    Anti-immigration Bill Pits Jewish GOPers Against House Hard-liners

    By E.J. KESSLER
    December 23, 2005

    With the passage this week by the House of Representatives of tough new anti-immigration legislation, political observers are warning of a growing rift on the issue between moderate Republicans allied to the White House and party hard-liners in the House.

    The House passed the bill in a largely party-line vote, with 36 Democrats joining the Republican majority in favor and 17 Republicans voting no. The bill calls for a controversial new fence along parts of the Mexican border and imposes criminal penalties on those found aiding undocumented immigrants.

    Before approving the bill, the House leadership flatly rejected an amendment, favored by President Bush, that called for a guest-worker program to help legalize some undocumented aliens. Nonetheless, the White House issued a statement supporting the House measure.

    The issue is also raising new barriers between Republican leaders and Jewish organizations, which have long advocated liberal immigration laws, based on humanitarian concerns and historic sentiment. Jewish Republicans, too, have emerged as key figures on the pro-immigration side in recent months, pitting many of them against the hard-liners who dominate the House leadership.

    The debate has featured increasingly bitter rhetoric between the two sides. Hard-liners paint dark pictures of out-of-control borders and a growing immigrant population steeped in criminality. Some warn of a threat to America's "national identity" from immigrants with different cultures and support volunteer border patrols by armed vigilante groups. Opposing them, immigration advocates decry threats to immigrants' human rights and frequently condemn immigration foes as nativists and bigots.

    "Unfortunately, throughout our history, there have always been Americans who believed that coming to these shores was a right reserved only for them and their ancestors, and for no others," Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman said in a recent California speech to GOP governors.

    "Ladies and gentlemen, that was wrong then, and those who argue that now are wrong today," said Mehlman, whose mother once headed the Baltimore region of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.

    Pro-immigration Republicans have close ties to businesses that employ immigrants and would be hurt by tighter restrictions. Moderates also worry that anti-immigration sentiment will hurt party efforts to court Hispanic voters, a top priority in the Bush White House.

    The House measure approved this week would impose criminal penalties on those found in the country illegally or aiding illegal immigrants. It authorizes local police to enforce federal immigration law and sets fines as high as $25,000 on employers of undocumented aliens. It also calls for a controversial new fence along parts of the Mexican border.

    Current law makes entering the country illegally a crime; once inside, however, undocumented immigrants incur only a civil penalty if they are discovered by the authorities.

    The centrist New Democrat Network declared in a statement that this week's House measure "sows the seeds of an immigration crisis unlike anything this country has ever experienced, making all 11 million immigrants felons."

    The future of the House bill is uncertain. The Senate is due to take up at least two competing measures next year, including a bill by Arizona Republican John McCain and Massachusetts Democrat Edward Kennedy that combines tighter borders with relatively generous guest-worker provisions. House Republican leaders have vowed not to accept any legislation that includes a guest-worker program.

    A second Senate measure, sponsored by Republicans John Cornyn of Texas and Jon Kyl of Arizona, calls for stiff border controls similar to parts of the House bill.

    Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the nation's senior Jewish Republican lawmaker, recently introduced his own bill, seeking to marry the two competing approaches. Conservative critics say the Specter bill would more than double the number of employment-based visas, to about 300,000.

    Jewish organizations, including the major Jewish civil rights agencies as well as the main federated philanthropic body, United Jewish Communities, support a mixed approach that emphasizes border control, increased legal immigration and paths to legalization for undocumented immigrants, such as guest-worker programs. Most groups say they follow the lead of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, which has aided immigrants for more than a century.

    "As a community that's so conscious of security, to have a system with 11 million people living in the shadows creates a security risk because people could hide there," the Washington representative of HIAS, Gideon Aronoff, said this week after the House approved its bill. "If we have an illegal immigration system, authorities have to use limited resources to chase after busboys and nannies. That's a waste."

    Beyond favoring more liberal immigration rules, some Jewish organizational leaders warn against what they see as extremist tendencies within the anti-immigration movement.

    "We have spoken out on the vigilante groups patrolling the border," said the Washington representative of the Anti-Defamation League, Jess Hordes. "That is an important piece of [the anti-immigration movement] that has links to white supremacist groups. A lot of the mainstream press had missed this part of the story."

    The leading House supporter of stricter immigration laws, Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, who speaks of running for president in 2008, openly supports the Minutemen vigilante groups patrolling the border and advocates ending automatic citizenship for children born in this country.

    Tancredo's political action committee, Team America PAC, which he co-founded with conservative activist Bay Buchanan, sister of commentator Patrick Buchanan, has a Web site that features links to the Minutemen. It also features news clips that seek to link undocumented immigrants to disease, crime and mayhem. "Illegal aliens decapitate children" one headline says. "Illegal immigrants bringing tuberculosis, our children at risk," says another.

    Some Republicans worry that Tancredo's PAC is introducing an anti-immigrant edge into their politics that will hurt them at the ballot box. Political analyst Marc Ambinder, writing at National Journal blog Hotline on Call, reported recently that "in the immigration debate, many GOP pollsters and strategists and big thinkers believe that independent voters, especially women, and nearly all Latino voters, interpret 'preserving national identity' as a code word for 'keeping America white and Christian.' Some have tested the phrase in polls and focus groups and confirmed their findings."

  • #2
    News

    Anti-immigration Bill Pits Jewish GOPers Against House Hard-liners

    By E.J. KESSLER
    December 23, 2005

    With the passage this week by the House of Representatives of tough new anti-immigration legislation, political observers are warning of a growing rift on the issue between moderate Republicans allied to the White House and party hard-liners in the House.

    The House passed the bill in a largely party-line vote, with 36 Democrats joining the Republican majority in favor and 17 Republicans voting no. The bill calls for a controversial new fence along parts of the Mexican border and imposes criminal penalties on those found aiding undocumented immigrants.

    Before approving the bill, the House leadership flatly rejected an amendment, favored by President Bush, that called for a guest-worker program to help legalize some undocumented aliens. Nonetheless, the White House issued a statement supporting the House measure.

    The issue is also raising new barriers between Republican leaders and Jewish organizations, which have long advocated liberal immigration laws, based on humanitarian concerns and historic sentiment. Jewish Republicans, too, have emerged as key figures on the pro-immigration side in recent months, pitting many of them against the hard-liners who dominate the House leadership.

    The debate has featured increasingly bitter rhetoric between the two sides. Hard-liners paint dark pictures of out-of-control borders and a growing immigrant population steeped in criminality. Some warn of a threat to America's "national identity" from immigrants with different cultures and support volunteer border patrols by armed vigilante groups. Opposing them, immigration advocates decry threats to immigrants' human rights and frequently condemn immigration foes as nativists and bigots.

    "Unfortunately, throughout our history, there have always been Americans who believed that coming to these shores was a right reserved only for them and their ancestors, and for no others," Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman said in a recent California speech to GOP governors.

    "Ladies and gentlemen, that was wrong then, and those who argue that now are wrong today," said Mehlman, whose mother once headed the Baltimore region of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.

    Pro-immigration Republicans have close ties to businesses that employ immigrants and would be hurt by tighter restrictions. Moderates also worry that anti-immigration sentiment will hurt party efforts to court Hispanic voters, a top priority in the Bush White House.

    The House measure approved this week would impose criminal penalties on those found in the country illegally or aiding illegal immigrants. It authorizes local police to enforce federal immigration law and sets fines as high as $25,000 on employers of undocumented aliens. It also calls for a controversial new fence along parts of the Mexican border.

    Current law makes entering the country illegally a crime; once inside, however, undocumented immigrants incur only a civil penalty if they are discovered by the authorities.

    The centrist New Democrat Network declared in a statement that this week's House measure "sows the seeds of an immigration crisis unlike anything this country has ever experienced, making all 11 million immigrants felons."

    The future of the House bill is uncertain. The Senate is due to take up at least two competing measures next year, including a bill by Arizona Republican John McCain and Massachusetts Democrat Edward Kennedy that combines tighter borders with relatively generous guest-worker provisions. House Republican leaders have vowed not to accept any legislation that includes a guest-worker program.

    A second Senate measure, sponsored by Republicans John Cornyn of Texas and Jon Kyl of Arizona, calls for stiff border controls similar to parts of the House bill.

    Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the nation's senior Jewish Republican lawmaker, recently introduced his own bill, seeking to marry the two competing approaches. Conservative critics say the Specter bill would more than double the number of employment-based visas, to about 300,000.

    Jewish organizations, including the major Jewish civil rights agencies as well as the main federated philanthropic body, United Jewish Communities, support a mixed approach that emphasizes border control, increased legal immigration and paths to legalization for undocumented immigrants, such as guest-worker programs. Most groups say they follow the lead of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, which has aided immigrants for more than a century.

    "As a community that's so conscious of security, to have a system with 11 million people living in the shadows creates a security risk because people could hide there," the Washington representative of HIAS, Gideon Aronoff, said this week after the House approved its bill. "If we have an illegal immigration system, authorities have to use limited resources to chase after busboys and nannies. That's a waste."

    Beyond favoring more liberal immigration rules, some Jewish organizational leaders warn against what they see as extremist tendencies within the anti-immigration movement.

    "We have spoken out on the vigilante groups patrolling the border," said the Washington representative of the Anti-Defamation League, Jess Hordes. "That is an important piece of [the anti-immigration movement] that has links to white supremacist groups. A lot of the mainstream press had missed this part of the story."

    The leading House supporter of stricter immigration laws, Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, who speaks of running for president in 2008, openly supports the Minutemen vigilante groups patrolling the border and advocates ending automatic citizenship for children born in this country.

    Tancredo's political action committee, Team America PAC, which he co-founded with conservative activist Bay Buchanan, sister of commentator Patrick Buchanan, has a Web site that features links to the Minutemen. It also features news clips that seek to link undocumented immigrants to disease, crime and mayhem. "Illegal aliens decapitate children" one headline says. "Illegal immigrants bringing tuberculosis, our children at risk," says another.

    Some Republicans worry that Tancredo's PAC is introducing an anti-immigrant edge into their politics that will hurt them at the ballot box. Political analyst Marc Ambinder, writing at National Journal blog Hotline on Call, reported recently that "in the immigration debate, many GOP pollsters and strategists and big thinkers believe that independent voters, especially women, and nearly all Latino voters, interpret 'preserving national identity' as a code word for 'keeping America white and Christian.' Some have tested the phrase in polls and focus groups and confirmed their findings."

    Comment


    • #3
      "Unfortunately, throughout our history, there have always been Americans who believed that coming to these shores was a right reserved only for them and their ancestors, and for no others," Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman said in a recent California speech to GOP governors.
      Considering that for the past 40 years, our immigration has primarily been from Latin America or Asia, I'd say that those who are trying to preserve and extend their lock on our immigration policy are people from these areas. In fact, a recent article from the Indian Press was overjoyed that there were now over a million Indians in the U.S. because it meant (at least to their way of thinking) that India could extend its influence over our political process. Ditto, Mexico's recent efforts at lobbying against OUR immigration bill using its citizens and representatives who live here.

      Comment


      • #4
        Foreign governments need to stop interfering in America's internal affairs. President Bush needs to tell Vicente Fox to mind his own goddam business.

        If Vicente and his minions spent even half as much time worrying about the disaster that is Mexico, then maybe Mexico's biggest industry would not be the wholesale exportation of its uneducated and unskilled population.

        Likewise, India and other countries need to respect America's sovereignty.

        Comment


        • #5
          Mexico's response to the bill:

          "He said many Mexicans felt betrayed by the anti-immigrant sentiment.

          The government is scrambling to fight on two fronts. On Monday, it announced it had hired Allyn & Company, a Dallas-based public relations company to help improve Mexico's image and stem the immigration backlash.

          'If people in the U.S. and Canada had an accurate view of the success of democracy, political stability and economic prosperity in Mexico, it would improve their views on specific bilateral issues like immigration and border security,' Rob Allyn, president of the PR firm, said yesterday.

          Mexico has also said it is recruiting U.S. church, community and business groups to oppose the proposal.

          The government has stepped up its defense of migrants, airing a series of radio spots here aimed at migrants returning home for the holidays.

          'Had a labor accident in the United States? You have rights. ... Call ...,' reads the ad, sponsored by Mexico's Foreign Relations Department, which has helped migrants bring compensation suits in the United States."

          If Mexico is as prosperous and pleasant as it's apparently claiming, then why does 46 percent of its population want to move here? Why do we already have 10 percent of its population here, mostly illegally?

          Comment


          • #6
            As strange as it may seem to liberal multi-culturalists, the United States is entitled to preserve its National Identity.

            It is disconcerting that anyone would interpret the preservation of a country's national identity as having a racial component. I find it disgusting that liberals and the apolpogists for illegal aliens routinely play the "race card."

            Quite honestly, Americans have a right to expect that immigrants will come to the United States with a will to assimilate and integrate to the best of their abilities. If an immigrant doesn't want to adopt America's national identity, then surely it is appropriate to suggest that that person remain in their country of origin.

            After all, neither Americans nor Mexicans, for example, are treking SOUTH through our southwestern deserts to escape to Mexico. Mexico is such a shambles that in a recent poll, almost fifty percent of Mexicans expressed a desire to migrate to America. Enough said!!

            Comment


            • #7
              I see that AliBA and I have quoted the same poll. Great minds think alike :-)

              Comment


              • #8
                The above post about Mexico's actions is also a response to those who accuse us of "racism" because of our emphasis on Mexico. That emphasis comes because Mexico itself provokes it with actions such as these. What business should it be of Mexico's what our immigration policies are? These policies are supposed to be for the welfare of the U.S., not the immigrants or the countries that send them. Mexico has encouraged illegal immigration for its benefit, and actively lobbies local, state, and federal governments here to achieve its aim: legal status for its citizens here.

                Comment


                • #9
                  And integrating to the best of one's ability includes observing the law in order to come here or remain here.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Aliba and SunDevil

                    Why are you bringing offtopic argument(of Mexican Governments' involvement in American Immigration Policy), into the discussion of US House Immigration Bill that "Pits Jewish GOPers Against House Hard-liners"?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      We (Americans), do have the right to preserve our National Identity. My only question is- What is our identity? We have so many cultures and beliefs here. I really want to know the answer to that, because I think that everyone has a different opinion on what our identity is. Vicente Fox has a right to his opinions on this bill. Even though it doesnt matter what he says. In my opinion, he should concentrate on making his own country desirable to his own citizens. Passing this bill alone will do nothing with solving the problems with illegals. The government needs to decide what they are going to do with all the illegals already here. All this bill is doing, is ruffling feathers on both sides of the argument.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        "As a community that's so conscious of security, to have a system with 11 million people living in the shadows creates a security risk because people could hide there," the Washington representative of HIAS, Gideon Aronoff, said this week after the House approved its bill. "If we have an illegal immigration system, authorities have to use limited resources to chase after busboys and nannies. That's a waste."
                        So we now have an "illegal immigration SYSTEM"??!!! That's precisely the problem--we have the legal system, which foolish people try to follow, to their detriment, and the illegal one, which the cheats and line jumpers follow. Unfortunately, with either, you can't tell who the terrorist is, and who the honest student, visitor, busboy or nanny. But you can bet, if the legal access is tighter, terrorists will use the illegal one, and I sure don't know how to tell a busboy from a terrorist--and who's to say they can't be both? Mr. Aronoff also ignores a much bigger problem--the drug smugglers, gang members and garden variety rapists, pedophiles, and murderers who exploit the illegal immigration "system".

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          We're not off topic. You'll note that I was responding to comments contained within the article YOU posted. They just don't happen to be points YOU thought were important.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Aliba, you have a point about the terrorists. but another is fact is, not one terrrorists was found entering the Mexican/USA border. All the terrorist entered with Visas legally.Your point about the terrorists is exactly why i dont think its a good idea to have an amnesty. But here is my problem. Even if it would be possible to deport all the illegals that are here, we would be tearing up families and deporting those with a real desire to be an American. There has to be a way to weed through the illegals and either deport or offer conditional greencards. If there were to be some sort of deportation of all illegals, the illegals would not leave quietly. That could cause a huge problem for everyone.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              wooddell6: Maybe if you got out a little more, America's national identity would be evident to you.

                              Furthermore, the minute that you were to step across the border to either Canada or Mexico, you would be well aware that you were in a foreign country. I'm sure that upon your return to the United States, you'd be proud to be an American and would more easily recognize what it is that gives America its identity.

                              Like all countries, America is comprised of individuals...each with their own views and opinions. That doesn't mean that we don't have a national identity.

                              Why are you so complacent? Why do you think that it's okay for an immigrant not to assimilate and integrate and learn our language?

                              Comment



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