Senator Patrick Leahy and His Forgotten Lessons

Published on April 24th, 2013

On April 22, I sort of watched the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. I say “sort of” because within the first hour I wondered why I should stay tuned in and consequently increase my already high level of immigration frustration. The hearing turned out to be several mostly uninterrupted hours of the same old, same old with a smattering of common sense provided by the intrepid few who spoke up on behalf of beleaguered American workers.

Among the brave were the Center for Immigration Studies’ Mark Krikorian, Steve Camorata and Janice Kephart as well as ICE union president Chris Crane and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. All nobly represented the millions of Americans who oppose the bill.

Chairman Patrick Leahy set the tone with this threatening salvo:

"Let no one be so cruel as to try to use the heinous acts of these two young men last week to derail the dreams and futures of millions of hardworking people.’’

Leahy, oblivious to the 22 million unemployed or under-employed Americans who would suffer the most should the bill pass, stacked the deck with pro-amnesty witnesses who muttered the predictable platitudes about immigrants’ economic contributions. America, they insisted, has a moral obligation to forgive illegal immigrants and also increase legal immigration. [Supporters: Don’t Link Immigration Bill to Terror, by Erica Werner, Associated Press, April 22, 2013]

Leahy’s rude, dismissive reaction to the thoughtful and indisputable testimony which CIS, Crane and Kobach offered should embarrass the United States Senate. When a witness with whom Leahy disagreed finished, he abruptly moved on. But when Leahy agreed with pro-amnesty speakers, he asked them leading, softball questions to encourage more immigration bromides.

From time to time, Leahy spoke of his Irish and Italian immigrant grandparents who worked hard and prospered. The anecdotal immigration ancestry hardship/success tale is another advocacy tool which falsely suggests that because certain individuals from generations long ago succeeded, others who came later automatically will. Leahy’s grandparents arrived in the late 19th century to work in quarries, not a 21st century growth industry.

Another infuriating Leahy constant: referring to illegal immigrants as “in the shadows” was de rigueur. Yet Gaby Pacheco, who proudly identifies herself as “undocumented,” sat on the panel. Dozens of Pacheco’s illegal immigrant friends and supporters sat not coincidentally in front-row center audience seats wearing white T-shirts that read “Keep Families Together.”

Leahy graduated from the Georgetown University Law Law Center in 1964. He should be smart enough to recognize the folly of referring to illegal immigrants as “in the shadows” when they’re congregated right under his eyes in the Washington D.C. Hart Senate Office Building. Despite Leahy’s loving memories of his parents and grandparents, he’s forgotten the lessons I’m sure they taught him about good manners, civil discourse and telling the truth.



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