The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Michael Earls
(202) 261-2388


The Battle Against Immigrants Continues: Lamar Smith Leads Another Political Showcase Trial to Demonize Immigrants


There he goes again.

This time, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX)--the GOP's top political strategist for Latino outreach--is taking on asylum-seekers fleeing persecution and seeking freedom in America. Today, Smith's House Judiciary Committee is marking up the "Keep Our Communities Safe Act," H.R. 1932. This made-for-TV show trial/hearing has little to do with keeping communities safe. It has everything to do with trying to keep Republican legislative districts safe for re-election by waving the flag of fear against immigrants.

In typical Smith fashion, he will pretend that his legislation is simply about protecting the public from dangerous predators. But the truth is, his legislation goes well beyond targeting violent offenders, to also authorize prolonged and even permanent detention of asylum-seekers and long-term legal permanent residents who pose absolutely no danger to society.

Following is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America's Voice:

"Immigrant and Latino voters are tired of immigration legislation that makes the system worse, and they're tired of being called a bunch of criminals by Smith and his crew. It's strange to me that House Republican leadership would continue to let Smith and his side-kicks Elton Gallegly (R-CA) and Steve King (R-IA) run the show, when the Party is at a crisis point with Latino voters. If they needed any more evidence, Sharron Angle's abysmal 8% showing with Latinos in 2010 should have been enough to convince the GOP that following the Smith approach to immigration politics is downright deadly for the Republican Party.

"Rep. Smith may think he's fooling the public by focusing on dangerous criminals in his remarks, but Latino and immigrant voters will see through his distortions and the GOP's demonization of immigrants. This legislation goes well beyond the stated problem, and would sweep up refugees and other lawfully-residing immigrants in the process.

"If Smith were really interested in addressing the problem with certain countries refusing to accept deportees, he would explore ideas like the new DOS and DHS collaboration to compel better international cooperation by imposing stiffer sanctions on such countries. Clearly, he's not interested in constructive solutions, he's interested in tightening the screws on all immigrants."

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.