Morgen on April 29, 2010 at 9:46 am
It’s actually not as bad as it seems at first glance, but with Democrats and their willing partners in the media in an ongoing campaign to discredit conservative messaging against big government as “seditious” and incendiary, I thought it was worth calling attention to some over-the-top rhetoric from a key Democrat on the immigration issue. Here is Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) speaking on a conference call organized by immigration activists on April 22:
Maybe you caught this the first time, but the reason I don’t think this is quite as bad as it seems is that I think Rep. Gutierrez was attempting to convey the perspective of children in a situation where their parents are arrested by the feds. But it’s hyperbole nonetheless, especially given that the type of immigration raids he is referring to are targeted at illegal aliens convicted of crimes, or who are otherwise wanted fugitives. While this is no doubt traumatic for any children involved, it’s no different than the thousands of other arrests which take place every week of people wanted by the authorities, who also happen to be parents. Unless of course you are an open borders proponent, unconcerned that illegal immigrants with prior felony convictions walk our streets and cities with impunity.
Some additional context is important here as well. According to the introduction from the moderator of the call, Gutierrez was speaking to “over 4000″ activists and other interested parties who had dialed in to get an update from the congressman. (Click here to listen to a recording of the entire call.) The call was organized by Reform Immigration for America, a coalition of social justice group, labor unions, and other liberal activists organizations pushing a “comprehensive immigration reform” agenda – including amnesty, of course. If you are familiar with the grassroots politics of the health care fight, this group is the immigration equivalent of Health Care for America Now (HCAN).
So while the comment itself was not intended to be as “seditious” as it seemed at first glance, I think it’s fair to say that it was irresponsible at best, considering that Gutierrez was speaking directly to the population most likely to be inflamed by such rhetoric. Tensions over immigration are high enough as it is, and congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle would be well advised to not use rhetoric which might inspire the most volatile factions engaged on this issue.
Lastly, just a brief comment on the second part of the clip. With even President Obama now quoted as saying he’s not sure there is the political will this year to address immigration reform, this portion of the clip makes it crystal clear where the pressure for action is coming from. Democrats are facing a tough enough election year as it is, and if Latino voters stay away from the ballot box it may be a wipeout for Democrats. So while I think there are some in Congress who are legitimately trying to advance this issue, I think by and large it’s political posturing. An attempt by vulnerable Democrats, particularly in the West (ahem, Harry Reid), to show that they gave it the old college try.
Activists have organized rallies all around the country for this Saturday (“May Day”). Given the current political climate in D.C. I doubt anything could shift the momentum towards genuine legislative action, but depending on the turnout Saturday it may be a wake-up call for Democrats to take this more seriously. This issue of course is a political minefield for Republicans as well, but I think as long as they coalesce around a strategy of “enforcement first” the political dynamics will work in their favor. The most likely scenario though is that some sort of deal will be cut to push this issue out past November.