The Republican Approach to Immigration Policy: Treat Immigrants Like Cattle
WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security descended upon the community of Postville, Iowa to arrest hundreds of immigrants working at the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant. Agents rounded up hundreds of immigrants like livestock and bused them to the National Cattle Congress grounds for “processing.” America’s Voice, the newly-founded communications and rapid response arm of a reinvigorated campaign to advance immigration reform, said it was appalled but not surprised at the Department of Homeland Security’s actions. In 2006, Iowa Congressman Steve King (R-5) equated undocumented immigrants to cattle and advocated the use of electrical wire to keep them from entering the United States: “We could also electrify this wire with the kind of current that wouldn’t kill somebody but would simply be a discouragement for them to be fooling around with it. We do this with livestock all the time.”
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “The Bush Administration has given up on real immigration reform to join Congressman Steve King and other Republicans who advocate mass round-ups of immigrant workers. The latest immigration raid in Iowa is an ugly example of the Republican thrust on the complex issue of illegal immigration: scare the public into thinking that immigrant workers are the enemy, round them up like cattle, terrorize immigrant communities in hopes they will leave the country, and pray it helps Republicans win elections this fall.
“After eight years in the White House and more than a decade running Congress, the Republican Party owns the immigration issue, and this raid is but another example of how their policies are a disaster for America – they trample our values, undermine our security, and damage our economy,” Sharry continued. “The GOP plan of terrorizing Latino immigrants in hopes they will self-deport amounts to a non-violent strategy of ethnic cleansing. Forcing them further into the shadows does nothing to regain control of our chaotic immigration system. And making workers afraid while coddling employers who take advantage of them ends up hurting immigrant and American workers alike.”
Sharry noted that Republicans are politicizing immigration in hopes of gaining political traction in the November elections. Unfortunately for them, voters are more interested in practical solutions than empty rhetoric. Illegal immigration as a wedge issue in elections failed for Republicans in 2005, 2006, and 2007. Just recently, anti-immigrant Republicans lost Dennis Hastert’s seat in Illinois-14 and the Louisiana-6 special election to Democrats.
Added Sharry, “When will Republicans get it? Every serious public opinion poll shows that the American people want the problem solved, not turned into a political football. They want solutions that restore the rule of law, not showy raids that make a bad situation worse. Republicans are not only out of step with the general electorate, but are losing altitude with Latino and new immigrant voters in a way that could doom the Party for years to come.”