This week, it’s the 104th anniversary of Ellis Island’s one-day peak – the day when more immigrants were welcomed than any other in American history. On April 17, 1907, 11,747 immigrants became Americans – and that was just at Ellis Island.
Today, 104 years later, America is stuck in the mud with a broken immigration system. Americans want reform that unites families, promotes fair employment practices, and restores America’s place as a nation that welcomes those seeking freedom from persecution and a better way of life.
They’re the 10 Washington politicians presenting the biggest threat to America fixing its broken and dangerous immigration system – the leading marshals of the anti-immigration reform agenda. They spread misinformation, prey on fear, and obstruct the reform America needs.
Many of the names are familiar. Maybe you’ve seen their faces before, or maybe you’re hearing about them for the first time. But all of them are obstructing the immigration reform that Americans want, need, and deserve.
Hall of Shame – April 2011 Inductees
1. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) — A man who cites the Bible in his opposition to immigration reform, King favors an electrified wire border fence, arguing “we do that with livestock all the time.” King believes that undocumented immigrants can be detected from their clothing and “the type of grooming they might have,” and labeled the DREAM Act “amnesty.” Alarmingly, King vice chairs the House Immigration Subcommittee – the first stop for every immigration bill.
2. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) — According to Lamar Smith, the guaranteed 14th Amendment right to birthright citizenship is a “misinterpretation,” which Smith plans to remedy with a ban on that right that can "get five votes" on the Supreme Court. Such a posture would be troubling enough from any member of Congress, but coming from the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, it’s downright dangerous.
3. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) — After calling for a national version of the Arizona SB 1070, Royce has announced new legislation to give local police Arizona-style powers over immigration. An active leader in the House’s leading anti-reform caucus, Royce supports forcing hospitals to gather information on possible undocumented immigrants, and opposes increasing visas for skilled workers.
4. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) — Always a lightning rod of controversy, Peter King has been in the headlines recently for scapegoating Muslim citizens. But we should remember that King has a long history of scapegoating and marginalizing all immigrants; he fought to ban the use of Spanish by government agencies and authored a bill to ban drivers’ licenses for undocumented workers because they are "potential terrorists." King chairs the Homeland Security Committee, which has a major role in immigration reform legislation.
5. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) — The potential presidential candidate has a history of inflammatory statements which go along with her outlandish voting record. She’s spread the widely-debunked rumor that Phoenix is “the kidnap[ping] capital of the United States,” using that myth to justify her support for an armed presence on the border. She’s advocates Arizona SB 1070, and told Bill O’Reilly that all local law enforcement should be required to ask for proof of immigration status. Bachmann chairs the House Tea Party Caucus.
6. Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA) – Having built a career spreading fear about our broken border, Bilbray now helms the House’s anti-immigration reform caucus, where he’s leading the fight for an Arizona SB 1070-style bill. Discontent with mere anti-immigrant legislation, Bilbray has spread rumors that President Obama will issue amnesty by decree, and "the human smuggling, prostitution, murder and virtual enslavement of human beings" is happening because immigrants are "drawn to this nation by… taxpayer-funded jobs."
7. Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) — While campaigning for Senate last year, Boozman wrote that "our schools, our hospitals and our jobs are being compromised by the influx of illegal immigrants." His solution? Eliminating the Constitutional right to birthright citizenship, reducing overall legal immigration, and spreading rumors that President Obama "may grant amnesty through an Executive Order."
8. Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC) — In word and deed, Shuler is eager to prove that obstructionism is bipartisan. The top Democrat in Congress’s largest anti-reform caucus, he worked with Tom Tancredo to author the SAVE Act, which would deport 12 million undocumented immigrants, was backed by NumbersUSA, and would’ve taken a large step towards militarizing America’s border.
9. Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI) — One of the leading proponents of the baseless rumor that the Obama administration is behind a “backdoor amnesty” program, Candice Miller chairs the Homeland Security Border Subcommittee. She co-sponsored the deportation-only SAVE Act, and won the support of Lou Dobbs for her fear-mongering that undocumented workers will gain political power due to the 2010 Census counting “persons,” not “citizens.”
10. Rep. Ben Quayle (R-AZ) — Heralded as a “true reformer” by the notoriously anti-immigration NumbersUSA, Ben Quayle exemplified the worst political impulses when it comes to immigration, exploiting fear and misinformation to ride into office. Quayle made election promises to reduce the overall number of immigrants allowed in America, erect a Pacific-to-the-Gulf electrified fence, and send the National Guard to patrol the border. These efforts may have won him the support of Chuck Norris, but here’s a fact for Chuck Norris and Ben Quayle: your scare tactics draw out the status quo – preventing meaningful reform, breaking up families, and putting America at risk.
Immigration is a fundamental part of America’s heritage and is essential to the growth and prosperity of our nation. That’s a fact. It’s central to our American character.
And it’s something these ten have forgotten.
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