The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Michael Earls (202) 494-8555

GOP Would Rather Change the Constitution than Take Up Immigration Reform

Shameful Election Year Politics vs. Just Fixing the Dang Problem


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calling for hearings on the 14th Amendment and arguing that its language is outdated.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.

America's Voice -- Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform. The mission of America's Voice is to realize the promise of workable and humane comprehensive immigration reform. Our goal is to build the public support and create the political momentum for reforms that will transform a dysfunctional immigration system that does not work into a regulatory system that does.