Monday, July 16 , 2018, 10:33 am | Fair 71º


Joe Guzzardi: House Democrats Finally Getting Americans’ Immigration Message

U.S. citizens want the government to enforce immigration law, plain and simple

An analysis of U.S. House members’ campaign Web sites conducted by Smart Politics, a blog for the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, shows at least 50 percent of Republican incumbents advocate cracking down on the nation’s immigration problems. On the other hand, only 8 percent of Democrats’ Web sites promote immigration law enforcement.

Joe Guzzardi
Joe Guzzardi

Since the candidates represent districts throughout the nation, a safe assumption is that the problems created by unchecked illegal immigration and rudderless legal immigration are evident to Americans from coast to coast. Among the most compelling problems that lawful taxpayers have grown tired of funding are rampant population growth, overcrowded schools, over-extended social services and a shortage of hospital beds.

Professor Eric Ostermeier, the blog’s author, said that this election season about 70 percent of Americans favor a “get tough” stance on illegal immigration.

The sentiment for reduced immigration is playing out in two key House elections, geographically separated by more than 2,000 miles, where both Democratic incumbents were once considered “safe.” As November draws near, however, Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., realize they are in the fights of their political lives.

Although liberal Massachusetts has a comparatively small immigrant demographic, estimated at about 7 percent of the total state population, Frank has been one of the most reliable House advocates for amnesty, the DREAM Act, and expanded nonimmigrant visa categories.

Sean Bielat, Frank’s Republican opponent and a major in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, has taken the immigration battle to his opponent. In a debate broadcast by Boston’s WKRO Radio that included immigration as one of its key topics, Frank came out in favor of anchor-baby citizenship and suggested that securing the border would be too “expensive.” Bielat called security on the southern border “a joke” and defended Arizona’s right to pass SB 1070 — a law that, under certain circumstances, would require illegal aliens to prove they reside in the United States legally.

In Arizona, another compelling House race is growing unexpectedly tight, thanks in large part to SB 1070.

Grijalva, the American-born son of illegal immigrant farm laborers, represents Arizona’s 7th Congressional District, which stretches along 300 miles of the U.S.-Mexican border and extends to the edge of California. Since Grijalva’s district is nearly 51 percent Hispanic, conventional Washington, D.C., wisdom was that his 2010 reelection was assured. But as voter dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party grows, even a Hispanic running in a Hispanic district is under siege. Grijalva’s Republican challenger, Ruth McClung, a rocket scientist and self-described conservative, finds herself polling even with the four-term incumbent.

McClung’s aggressive criticism of Grijalva for his call to boycott Arizona because of SB 1070 put her on the political map.

“He’s called for a boycott of his own state at a time when we’re second in poverty,” McClung said. “The (proposed) boycott was just a slap in the face. It was almost the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Sensing Grijalva’s vulnerability, nationally prominent Republicans like former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin have endorsed McClung.

Arizona offers a cautionary note about ethnic-identity politics that escapes Grijalva and other open-border advocates. Hispanics who vote are U.S. citizens. As citizens, their concerns are different from those of illegal immigrants. Citizens, regardless of their ancestry, don’t want to compete with illegal immigrants for scarce jobs or welfare benefits. The 2010 message to Washington is that Americans want immigration enforcement. Those like Frank and Grijalva who have been slow to get the message, may be on their way out.

— Joe Guzzardi has written editorial columns — mostly about immigration and related social issues — since 1990 and is a senior writing fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS). After 25 years as an English as a Second Language teacher in the Lodi Unified School District, Guzzardi has retired to Pittsburgh. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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