House Judiciary Committee Hearings Begin: Round One, the Battle Lines Are Drawn

Published on February 6th, 2013

On February 5, the House Judiciary Committee chaired by Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) began what will be the first of dozens of amnesty-related hearings. In a departure from form, most of the witnesses the House invited were amnesty supporters. Usually, the panel is made up of witnesses more aligned with the chair’s position. In this case, Goodlatte is among the most ardent enforcement advocates. Those who testified, however, came mostly from the other side.

At this early date, the immigration question most often asked on Capitol Hill is whether citizenship should be included as an essential part of any agreement between the House and the Senate or whether some form of immediate legal residency should precede automatic citizenship. Whether that can be resolved will be at the heart of the ongoing deliberations. For now, the Senate demands that citizenship is mandatory but the House disagrees.

The debate’s parameters were defined in an exchange between Goodlatte and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro. Goodlatte asked if there might be some middle ground between what he called the “extremes of mass deportation and a pathway to citizenship for those not legally in the United States?” Castro immediately countered that he did not consider including citizenship extreme. Later during the testimony, long time amnesty proponents Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and John Conyers (D-MI) defended Castro’s position. But Rep. Spencer Bachus, (R-AL) said passing a bill to give permanent residency to highly skilled foreign-born visa holders would be “less heavy lifting” than to pass a comprehensive bill that includes citizenship.  Summarized Bachus about the prospects for a full amnesty: “That’s a toxic, more contentious issue.”

The hearing’s overall tone emphasized that Goodlatte is skeptical of a sweeping, all encompassing immigration bill. Early indications are that the House would prefer to consider smaller, piecemeal bills—a wish that Senate Democrats won’t grant.  [House GOP Open to Residency for Illegal Immigrants, by Ashley Parker, New York Times, February 5, 2013]

By next week, the gulf between the Senate and the House will be crystal clear. On February 13, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold its first meeting. Chairman Patrick Leahy, (I-VT) is expected to call Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano as a key witness. Leahy has a F- NumbersUSA immigration grade; Napolitano’s shameful illegal immigration advocacy is unbroken and dates back at least to 1993 when then-president Bill Clinton appointed her as United States attorney for the Arizona district. As Arizona governor and DHS secretary, Napolitano has lobbies for every alien entitlement and immigration law subversion that the White House has initiated.

Yesterday Napolitano, speaking from El Paso, outrageously said that Republicans' insistence on a secure border as a pre-condition to amnesty is “a flawed argument.” [Napolitano Says Call for Border Safety before Immigration Reform Is a Flawed Argument, Associated Press, February 5, 2013]

A side note on yesterday’s hearing: although President Obama and the mainstream media continue to refer to aliens as “in the shadows,” a group of illegal immigrants disrupted the proceedings with loud chanting and sign waving. Goodlatte asked them to leave. See the video here.

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