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House GOP Flirting With Criminalizing Illegal Immigration

Doug recently posted two articles about the uncertain future of Immigration Reform in the House of Representatives. Here’s further evidence about the growing Immigration rift withing the GOP:

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who chairs the chamber’s immigration subcommittee, are proposing a measure that makes it a federal crime – a misdemeanor – to be “unlawfully present in the United States.”

It is already a federal misdemeanor crime under current law to illegally enter the United States. The proposal would make it a crime if someones stays beyond their visa, and it would eliminate a current five-year statute of limitations on prosecution of such crimes.

[source: USA Today]

I see two ways of reading this.

Goodlatte and Gowdy could be floating this to “help” gather support in the House for immigration reform. The USA Today report on this notes that:

the bill is not an attempt to criminalize the 11 million unauthorized immigrants already living in the country. He says he is presuming that they will be legalized under a separate bill – one that hasn’t been filed in the House yet – and says his efforts are aimed at deterring future would-be immigrants from entering the country illegally.

Perhaps they feel that such a measure would be a concession to the “law and order” wing of the party that wants more deterrents against future illegal immigration. However, if that was the case, then wouldn’t it make more sense to put it in as provision in the House version of Immigration reform?

The other possibility is that they are looking to bring this to the floor as a way for House Republicans to signal their frustrations with the “legalization” aspects of the current senate proposal.

Either way, it seems to me that if this passes committee and is brought to the floor, even as a symbolic vote, ahead of immigration reform, history suggests that it’s not going to do much to help the image of the GOP in immigrant communities. And, as I’ve posted elsewhere, the fact that immigration has, rightly or wrongly, become a term that’s taken to be synonymous with the Hispanic community, suggests that the fall out from such a move isn’t going to help with bridging that gap either.

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About Matt Bernius
Matthew is a PhD student in Cultural Anthropology at Cornell University, researching the intersection of technology and culture. Prior to Cornell, he earned a Masters in the Social Sciences from the University of Chicago and was a visiting professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Matt started his career at Eastman Kodak, spending eight years in a variety of web development, community and content strategy roles. In his spare time (off OTB) Matt slogs (slow-blogs) on the future of reading/media, studies martial arts and self defense, and volunteers, along with his wife, at the Rochester Animal Shelter. Follow him on twitter @mattbernius.

Comments

  1. legion says:

    the bill is not an attempt to criminalize the 11 million unauthorized immigrants already living in the country. He says he is presuming that they will be legalized under a separate bill – one that hasn’t been filed in the House yet – and says his efforts are aimed at deterring future would-be immigrants from entering the country illegally.

    Ahhhhhh, yeah. That would be a lie there. The tip-off is the removal of the statute of limitations… even if every immigrant were declared “legal” (whatever that might mean) tomorrow, this law would allow unlimited prosecution of them whenever the thugs in power decided to roust somebody who didn’t look lily-white enough.

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  2. PD Shaw says:

    Criminalizing illegal immigration is what they do in Canada:

    Martin’s balanced policies emerged organically out of Canadian culture, which is fair-minded and rule-following to a fault. The Canadian obsession with order can make for strange politics, at least in an American context. For example, of all the world’s societies, Canada’s is one of the most open to immigrants, as anyone who has been to Toronto or Vancouver will have seen. Yet Canada also imposes a mandatory one-year prison sentence on illegal immigrants, and the majority of Canadians favor deportation. Canadians insist that their compassion be orderly, too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  3. al-Ameda says:

    Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who chairs the chamber’s immigration subcommittee, are proposing a measure that makes it a federal crime – a misdemeanor – to be “unlawfully present in the United States.”

    Clearly, they are working hard on locking up the Hispanic/Latino vote. Seriously, I’m surprised these guys haven’t proposed shut down of the Ellis Island Museum.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  4. David M says:

    This is why I keep saying the GOP is better off either passing immigration reform, or even just allowing it to pass by pretending to oppose it. Their other alternatives are worse.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  5. stonetools says:

    The more the House discusses immigration, the worse things look for the Republicans in 2014-and it will be months before they vote on any bills.
    As far as the Democrats are concerned, having the House Republicans discuss immigration is pure political gold-the gift that keeps on giving.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  6. al-Ameda says:

    @stonetools:

    As far as the Democrats are concerned, having the House Republicans discuss immigration is pure political gold-the gift that keeps on giving.

    It’s the same with their incessant discussions of women’s reproduction and abortion – I cannot see how this does anything other than firm up the GOP’s 40% base.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  7. Rafer Janders says:

    @PD Shaw:

    Makes sense to me. Canada allows a fairly high level of immigration — but one way they do that is by cracking down on illegal immigration. Canada thinks that Canada, and not anyone else, should determine who does and does not get allowed into Canada. If you can’t follow the rules, they don’t want you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  8. NickTamere says:

    @al-Ameda: They were supposed to figuratively lock it up, not literally.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  9. I see two ways of reading this.

    Goodlatte and Gowdy could be floating this to “help” gather support in the House for immigration reform.

    Bob Goodlatte (also a Birther nutjob) is not doing anything that would help immigration reform get passed.

    Trust me, or OnTheIssues:

    Voted YES on building a fence along the Mexican border. (Sep 2006)
    Voted YES on preventing tipping off Mexicans about Minuteman Project. (Jun 2006)
    Voted YES on reporting illegal aliens who receive hospital treatment. (May 2004)
    Voted NO on extending Immigrant Residency rules. (May 2001)
    Voted YES on more immigrant visas for skilled workers. (Sep 1998)
    Rated 100% by FAIR, indicating a voting record restricting immigration. (Dec 2003)
    Rated 100% by USBC, indicating a sealed-border stance. (Dec 2006)
    End Birthright Citizenship; no more anchor babies. (Apr 2009)
    Rated A+ by the ALI, indicating a strongly anti-amnesty stance. (Nov 2010)
    Declare English as the official language of the US. (Feb 2007)
    Declared English the official language of the US. (Jan 1999)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  10. Todd says:

    The only illegal alien I personally know is a white British citizen … she traveled overseas, not realizing that her green card had expired. Instead of fixing it while still overseas, she decided to come back on a tourist visa, which of course has long since expired.

    Somehow I doubt people like her are the target of Rep Goodlatte’s legislation

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  11. Barry says:

    @stonetools: “As far as the Democrats are concerned, having the House Republicans discuss immigration is pure political gold-the gift that keeps on giving. ”

    And they seem to be taking their sweet time on this. Either they should railroad it through, or kill it quickly (the Senate is great at making things disappear with no fingerprints).

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  12. Barry says:

    @Rafer Janders: But isn’t the USA an exceptional country which would be lowered by even admitting that there are other countries, let alone looking at what they do?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  13. Barry says:

    @Timothy Watson: “End Birthright Citizenship; no more anchor babies. (Apr 2009)”

    You mean that he’s against the Constitution?

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