At a recent internal debate by the conservative House Republican Study Committee, Rep. Bob Inglis of South Carolina warned that the GOP ran the risk of looking like the racist National Party of South Africa on the immigration issue. Inglis' comment was made at a closed-door 'retreat' of the Study Committee held at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. The bitter debate reflected the split over immigration in conservative ranks. Supporters of President Bush's proposed moderate immigration reforms blamed last year's defeat of Republican Representatives J.D. Hayworth in Arizona and John Hostettler in Indiana on their immigration hard line. But at the retreat, the response from the majority was that Hayworth and Hostettler were not hard enough.
I think most political observers in Indiana would disagree that Hostettler lost because of the immigration debate, although there is no question Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D) has been much more outspoken against providing any reasonable relief for the 12 million undocumented aliens in this country. While Hostettler took a leadership role chairing a subcommittee which studied the issue, the bigger issue was how much time he was spending away from the district and not at home campaigning for his own re-election. I would observe that Rep. Ellsworth has made some extremely anti-immigrant statements since being elected which, if spoken from the mouth of Hostettler, would have raised a lot of eyebrows. Coming from the media darling Ellsworth, his embarrassing statements earned little attention.
After originally playing with the idea of moderating his position on immigration reform last year, Rep. Mike Pence (R) has clearly retrenched to his typical anti-immigrant position. "The president's willingness to accept the granting of amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants has sent a harmful message to Republican voters around the country," Pence told the Washington Time's Stephen Dinan. "But I also believe that'll sort itself out in the primaries of 2008. At the end of the day, this is an issue where I find myself focusing less on politics than what policy I think is in the best interests of the American people."
Would these anti-immigrant politicians prefer we round up every one of the 12 million undocumented aliens and deport them from the country? Can you imagine the shock that would have on the American economy, not to mention the countless numbers of families who would be broken up and left without a breadwinner to support their American-born children?
Hat tip to the Indiana Daily Insight.