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GOP Would Rather Change the Constitution than Take Up Immigration Reform
Shameful Election Year Politics vs. Just Fixing the Dang Problem
WASHINGTON - August 9 - The latest flap over "birthright citizenship" has exposed a new low for Republican politicians hell-bent on politicizing the immigration debate and obstructing action on comprehensive immigration reform. Apparently, GOP politicians would rather change the Constitution than just do their job and fix the broken immigration laws--a sad commentary on the state of the GOP, a transparent political exercise, and another nail in coffin of Republican outreach to Latino voters.
According to Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America's Voice: "Rather than standing up and using the power they have as federal leaders to enact real immigration reform, Republican senators and representatives are clamoring for repeal of the 14th Amendment. This is offensive election-year politics at their worst, and a shameless example of throwing chum to a right-wing base that sees blood in the water over immigration. The Republicans' proposal would punish unborn children for the actions of their fathers, an act that is un-American and simply beyond the pale."
Perhaps it is most unsettling that two of the senators leading the charge for changing the Constitution have previously been voices of reason when it comes to immigration reform. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), two of the most vocal champions for immigration reform in the Republican Party in 2006 and 2007, are now calling for hearings on the 14th Amendment and arguing that its language is outdated. Undoubtedly, McCain's primary challenge from anti-immigrant zealot J.D. Hayworth, and conservative criticism of Graham's role in a number of battles, including recent Supreme Court nominations, influenced their decision to embrace a position formerly espoused by only the most radical anti-immigrant Members of Congress.
Former Bush Administration speechwriter Michael Gerson, writing in the Washington Post, said that while Senators McCain and Graham "were once examples of conscience on the issue of immigration. McCain, in a tough Senate primary, has backed off his convictions. Graham has now abandoned them. Their political fortunes may recover. Their reputations may never fully recover."
"It's deeply disappointing to see Senators McCain and Graham, two former champions for real immigration reform, reading from Tom Tancredo's talking points and bringing credibility to one of the most extreme positions of the anti-immigrant fringe movement. They know better than anyone that getting three-fourths of state legislatures to repeal the 14th Amendment is simply not going to happen, and this is all just an exercise in election-year politics at their worst," said Tramonte.
"But targeting babies who had no say in where they are born is a curious political strategy, in addition to abhorrent public policy. One would assume this is about throwing red meat to conservatives, but the Republican base is already fired up this election, and amending the Constitution to punish babies has not been high on the rank and file's list of priorities-at least, not until now. By ginning up this issue, in the context of Republican politicians' standard anti-immigrant rhetoric and support for the Arizona ‘papers, please' immigration law, GOP politicians are giving Latino voters more reasons to show up in November than ever," she said.