Immigration and the 110th Congress


Gregory Siskind

The Democratic Party has won twice as many seats as needed to take over
the US House of Representatives and seem to be in a position to take
over the US Senate as well in a stunning defeat for the Republican
Party. In January, the 100th Congress will be sworn in and new leaders
will be chosen to run committees which focus on immigration

Immigration was set to be the Republicans secret political weapon this
year, but a funny thing happened on the way to the election. While most
Republicans promoted tough immigration positions that emphasized strong
enforcement and an opposition to any kind of relief for undocumented
immigrants, voters generally rejected this hard-line approach and
supported candidates more likely to support comprehensive immigration
reform proposals.

The most telling evidence of this is the fact that Tom Tancredo’s
anti-immigrant Immigration Reform Caucus (comprised of 101 Republicans
and 2 Democrats) had a horrible evening yesterday. As many as 20 of its
members will be gone in the next Congress. (See further details below)

The rejection of the anti-immigrant message was seen in the
overwhelming defeat of John Hostettler (R-IN), the chairman of the
House Immigration Subcommittee. Hostettler lost 61% to 39%, a landslide
by any definition. He made immigration his major issue and touted his
record as rejecting any form of relief for the undocumented immigrant.

Another high profile anti-immigrant Congressman to go down in defeat
was J.D. Hayworth, the Arizona Republican who frequently is seen on
national television discussing immigration. In another Arizona race,
Randy Graf lost by a large margin to Gabrielle Giffords to take over
the seat of Jim Kolbe. Graf, a Minuteman, not surprisingly took a
number of extremely tough immigration positions including opposing US
citizenship for children born in the US to non-citizens, opposition to
earned legalization for undocumented immigrants, and supporting of the
CLEAR Act, a bill with numerous provisions removing due process rights
for immigrants.

Kolbe noted that the anti-immigration strategy of Republicans like Graf
was actually hurting the GOP. Kolbe told the Tucson Citizen newspaper
“The focus on immigration hurt Republicans. They need to focus on key
issues such as terrorism and economic growth.”

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