Border-Control Bill May Come Back to Haunt Illinois GOP
By Greg Hinz of Crain's Chicago Business
Like most of you, I had better things to do on a Friday evening when the U.S. House gave its response — a loud and spit-spewing raspberry — to President Barack Obama's request for more money to deal with the influx of illegal young immigrants from Central America.
But I predict you'll hear a lot more about this one in this state as, with the help of Bruce Rauner's money, the Illinois GOP tries to get off the floor and become competitive for the first time in at least a decade.
Some votes are silly. Some are stupid. Some are just butt-ugly mean. The Aug. 1 vote was all of the above, something that is appreciated by Republicans who bother to think before throwing red meat at their nativist base.
Actually there were two votes.
The first was bad enough. It limited the new money Mr. Obama wanted to hold hearings for and perhaps deport the in-comers to $694 million. And it imposed some strings, not only sharply cutting back on a measure granting asylum hearings to unaccompanied minors from Central America — a measure that originally passed overwhelmingly when George W. Bush was president — but also limiting such hearings on for minors from Mexico, too.
Here's the roll call. Every Illinois Democratic congressman, except Chicago's Bobby Rush, voted no. Mr. Rush was absent and didn't vote. Voting yes was every GOP rep -- including Adam Kinzinger, Rodney Davis, Randy Hultgren and Peter Roskam — except Aaron Schock, who still harbors statewide ambitions and did not vote.
It's all Mr. Obama's fault, Mr. Hultgren said in a statement. “The crisis at the border was fueled by administration policies that altered our already insufficient border enforcement and encouraged these children to put themselves in the hands or smugglers and human traffickers."
I understand where Mr. Hultgren is coming from. But Chicago conservative Democrat Dan Lipinski is right that the bill goes "too far."
As he said in a statement, “This bill will permanently remove basic protections that are in place to help children who are being persecuted for their religion, race, or gender and are truly in need of our help. Under this bill, children will receive less careful screening to find out if they have been abused or are being trafficked, and it also removes the discretion of Border Patrol agents to decide whether a child is simply too young to make the profound decision of being deported or choosing to return home."
But there is no defense to the second bill, on which Mr. Kinzinger switched sides and on which Mr. Schock again didn't vote.
That's the bill that tells hundreds of thousands of young adults who were brought here as children, who have stayed out of trouble and have come out of the shadows, that the two-year visas Mr. Obama gave them administratively will not be renewed.
Never been in Nicaragua since you were a kid, kid? Put yourself as risk by voluntarily coming forward? Tough. I've got a primary to win, so you can just swim back where you came from.
Mr. Hulgtren's excuse on that is weak — but at least he, unlike Mr. Roskam (who perhaps would like to regain his old job as deputy whip) bothered to explain his vote. Mr. Hultgren's argument: "We must stop the president from abusing the immigration laws already passed by Congress. Refusing to enforce the law is against the Constitution and sends mixed messages to children put at risk by attempting to come here and endangering their safety."
Can't have mixed messages, can we? Perhaps we should shoot a few to make sure the message is clear.
In comparison, here's what Joliet's Mr. Kinzinger said when asked why he broke with most Republicans on this issue: “Although I disagree with the President's unilateral actions on this issue, the fact is our government made promises to these children, many of whom were brought here by their parents through no fault of their own. Simply put, taking away the opportunity for these young individuals to come out of the shadows and get right with the law is not going to solve the problems we face with our immigration system."
Or as Chicago Democrat Luis Gutierrrez argued in more pointed terms: "We always understood you wanted to deport their (youngsters') parents....But now, late on a Friday night you are going after (those) who have known no other country. Who risked their identities and their families to come forward and sign up with the Department of Homeland Security and passed FBI background checks."
He added, "In the end, the Republican position on immigration can be summed up as “deport 'em all.”
Mr. Gutierrez is, as often, being histrionic. But he's right. And as they address voters in a state that was built by immigrants — Irish and Italian, Polish and now Hispanic — Illinois Republicans are going to explain why sending 'em back regardless of their circumstances is good policy, much less the actions of a humane country.
If any Illinois Republican leaders disagree with this nonsense — other than Mr. Schock, Mr. Kinzinger and perhaps U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk — I'll be happy to put up what they have to say.
In the meantime, don't expect the Senate to vote on this any soon. What I'd look for is Mr. Obama to do what Republicans say they don't want and do more on his own, administratively.
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