Texas’ Lamar Smith to Take on Immigration Issue

Bashing Immigrants Comes With a Price

By Ruben Navarrette

Rep. Lamar Smith’s pet cause is immigration enforcement. Now, as the chairman-elect of the House Judiciary Committee attempts to convince fellow Republicans to join his posse, he has also taken an interest in Latino voting patterns.

Too bad he has such a limited understanding of both.    

The San Antonio congressman can’t match candlepower with Republicans such as Karl Rove, Jeb Bush and Newt Gingrich. They are also thinking about Latino voting, and they worry that the GOP is — through the immigration debate — alienating an otherwise conservative audience with incendiary rhetoric and bumper sticker slogans.

According to the polling firm Latino Decisions, 71% of the votes cast by Latinos in the midterm elections went to Democratic candidates. And with recent census data showing that Hispanics drive population growth in Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Florida and other states, the Republican Party could be capsized by a demographic tidal wave.

Yet, instead of making peace, Smith is making up tall tales.

In an op-ed for The Washington Post, he made the rosy claim that GOP-Hispanic relations were “very bright” in spite of warnings that “a pro-rule-of-law stand would undercut Hispanic support for Republicans.”

Smith wants to reassure Republicans in Congress that they can act with impunity if they bash immigrants — of all kinds.

Not simply an opponent of illegal immigration, he also supports limiting legal immigration. And he wants to change the 14th Amendment and deny citizenship to the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants.

Hard-liners like Smith get tangled in contradictions. To avoid charges of being anti-foreigner, they insist they’re only concerned with “illegal immigration” and have no problem with legal immigrants — whom they also want to keep out. And they brag about being “pro-rule-of-law” right up to the point where they try to change laws they don’t agree with.

There is good news. Unlike demagogues such as Tom Tancredo — the former Colorado congressman who managed to enrage Cuban-Americans, a loyal GOP constituency, by calling Miami a “third-world country” — Smith hasn’t been foolish enough to say outright racist things. Nor does he compare illegal immigrants to insects as did Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, who insists that authorities should be able to apprehend more illegal immigrants because the government can “capture illegal grasshoppers from Brazil.”

We heard something similar from Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who said that he wants to build a concrete border fence that no one or nothing could get across, not even “a cockroach.”

The problem with Smith is that he doesn’t approach the immigration issue with honesty, nuance or sophistication. As when he says that the Obama administration is making it “easier for illegal immigrants to keep jobs that rightly belong to U.S. citizens and legal immigrant workers.”

This sounds like something you’d hear from a Democrat pandering to union workers in a Rust Belt state. Does a supposedly pro-business Republican really need to be reminded that U.S. jobs don’t “rightly belong” to anyone but rather are earned by those who are willing to do them?

Smith doesn’t grasp that the immigration issue is about economics and the need to replenish the U.S. labor supply because young people are raised to think of themselves as entitled to avoid stoop labor. He thinks the whole problem can be solved by enforcement alone, even though the professionals who do that work daily — whether it’s Border Patrol agents or the brass at Immigration and Customs Enforcement — disagree and insist that there isn’t a wall high enough to deter mothers and fathers who are desperate to feed their children.

Smith is tougher on some offenders than he is on others. He sounds like Dirty Harry when it comes to deporting illegal immigrants who can’t vote and don’t contribute to political campaigns, but he wimps out and becomes Barney Fife when he has the chance to stiffen penalties on employers who do.

The co-author of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, which focused on enforcement, somehow forgot to include a new round of employer sanctions in the mix.

He didn’t forget. I interviewed Smith a couple of years after the law was passed, and I asked him why he hadn’t come down harder on employers. He candidly acknowledged that it would have been a tough sell to fellow Republicans.

Now Lamar Smith is on another sales trip, peddling the snake oil that Republicans can do their worst and not pay a price with Latino voters.

Buyer beware. Tidal wave approaching.

Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group, a CNN.com contributor and a commentator for National Public Radio.


  1. The only TIDAL WAVE this writer should be worried about (and I think he is or he wouldn’t be spewing all this trash) is one from us Tea Party folks that are sick and tired of all the handouts and rules imposed on us by the State and Feds that MANDATES us to pay for every nation in the world, except our own. I have many Hispanic friends and FAMILY and though many are uninformed; the majority of the ones born and raised here or have been here over ten years, want the same things we want—not what the liberal idealogs say they want. Trust me—they are just as tired as I am of paying for the needs of folks that don’t work or do anything to pay their way.

    PS Good Post Christian–If folks would just research that post, much truth is found right there.

  2. I’ll believe it when I see it.

    How many years have the Republicans been talking about this issue? Time for talk is OVER.

    These politicians are master of mis-information, dis-information, and forked-tongued sophistry.

  3. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/12/28/next_years_wars?page=full
    Ever NOTICE these PHONY idealistic progressive airheads mentioning the obvious.
    Our Southern border is wide open to Mexico,Columbia,Venezuela,Guatemala and Haiti all of which could erupt in war at anytime.

    No matter what anyone thinks or claims the greatest immediate threat to OUR country is an OPEN BORDER and all the undocumented individuals that have INVADED our country.

    On the local news yesterday they reported on illegal Mexican National that had be arrested and deported over 40 times.
    We need to load them on a air transport and deport them at 20,000 ft over the Southern Mexican border.

  4. I’ve been reading the Texas Insider for about three years and posting for over two years. We regulars all know who Ruben Navarrette is and what he stands for. Do left-wingers have something to say, absolutely! We need to listen to what they say carefully and understand their position, yet not consume their poison. Would they continue to support their position if they knew it was flawed? Probably! I’m convinced that TRUTH changes people if they’ll embrace it and I know the Author of all truth. So we conservatives need to built our logical agruments on the TRUTH and hope that we can persuade all Americans who do not cherish our views at present, to embrace what we espouse.

    Now to address the article. “…convince fellow Republicans to join his posse…” This sounds like immature “pop culture” dribble.

    “The San Antonio congressman can’t match candlepower with Republicans such as Karl Rove, Jeb Bush and Newt Gingrich.” This should tell you volumes about Navarrette and these men he supports. Rove, Bush and Gingrich are all liberals who would embrace Mr. Navarrette’s ideology.
    I’ve posted links to Gingrich’s left-wing “Third Wave” background before. Rove is just like him and Bush has a “New World Order” father and brother. I don’t trust Jeb Bush and more than his father or brother.

    “…71% of the votes cast by Latinos in the midterm elections went to Democratic candidates…the Republican Party could be capsized by a demographic tidal wave.” Mr. Navarrette is trying to intimidate us by the shear numbers of the Latinos. I guess he thinks that Latinos are in lock-step with the DEMONcratic party. Here in Texas, newly elected conservative Latinos are coming out of the closet and voicing their contempt for the fiscally and morally bankrupt DEMONcratic party.

    “Yet, instead of making peace, Smith is making up tall tales.” Ever notice how the liberals hate the truth. They spin it as making up tall tales but their “tall tales” like Al Gore’s “global warming” hoax is the truth. LOL!!!

    “And they brag about being “pro-rule-of-law” right up to the point where they try to change laws they don’t agree with.” It seems that the “rule-of-law” is verbage that upsets Mr. Navarrette. It upsets most leftists and Marxists.

    Every one of the “demagogues” on Mr. Navarrette’s list, I would consider to be right-wing patriots. I’ll bet Mr. Navarrette would have hated William B. Travis, Jim Bowie, Davey Crockett, Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin. They too would have been demagogues.

    “The problem with Smith is that he doesn’t approach the immigration issue with honesty, nuance or sophistication.” What the liberal Navarrette is saying is that Mr. Smith doesn’t see things in an open-minded, appeasing and entitlement way. He’s too rigid due to his beliefs in the rule-of-law and the constitution. Mr. Smith is the kind of man we conservatives need to push against the spread of Marxism in this country.

    “Smith doesn’t grasp that the immigration issue is about economics and the need to replenish the U.S. labor supply…” This is Marxism at is best.

    “He sounds like Dirty Harry when it comes to deporting illegal immigrants…” Maybe Mr. Smith should apply the Mexican government’s policies when it comes to illegal immigration. Do the research on how Mexico treats illegal aliens.

    I have confidence that Mr. Smith won’t waver on the penalities that employers pay for hiring illegal aliens this time around.

    I think that we need to see deeper into the illegal immigration problem. Please remember that the “New World Order” people like the Bilderberg Group, Trilateral Commission, Council of Foreign Relations, the United Nations and the big banks like (Chase Manhattan) and big corporations like (G.E.) want a “North American Union” like the European Union. Therefore borders will be almost non existant between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. Check out this link. http://www.stopthenorthamericanunion.com/ This is the real driving force behind illegal immigration,

    Yes, Demoncrats are trying to get Latino votes to secure their power, Latinos are taking U.S. jobs, there are drugs, human trafficking, and violence but please look deeper at what the globalists are driving us toward.

  5. When are FOOLS like Ruben going to get it.
    The VAST majority of VOTERS in this country DO NOT WANT illegals ILLEGALS given anything.
    They broke and continue to BREAK the LAW.
    We are SICK and Tried of supporting people that5 break our laws,Disrespect our Culture, Language and Flag.
    You bleeding heart liberal jackasses want to make a difference MOVE to Mexico and whine, threaten and complain.
    The intelligent Latino voters see that these people and fools like you are NOT representing their feelings and are showing HOW CONSERVATIVE in the elections.
    So take you SICK propaganda elsewhere preferably as far SOUTH of the Rio Grande as possible.

  6. MrNavarrette, a Harvard Graduate is from California, and as if that isn’t suspicious enough, he writes an autobiography at age 26. Apparently narcissists fit in well at the Dallas Morning News where he works until 2005. The little guy manages to make himself pleasant enough, probably avoiding several butt-whippings, but once he’s safely over the border back into the worker’s paradise of California he says the Texas justice system is “a joke” because we actually execute murderers.

    Apparently his solution to illegal immigration is that we continue to put up with it or face the wrath of Mexican-Americans at the voting booth. Essentially a threat. He’d prefer we wait until they outnumber us 3 or 4 to one before we attempt to take action. If you’ve got a brown skin & you can crawl across our border, that’s good enough for Ruben.

    Almost everyone in Texas knows or works around an illegal alien they admire. That doesn’t mean we tolerate Democrat politicians smuggling them in by the truckload (through surrogates) to pervert the balance of political power in their favor. On the one hand you have Republicans struggling to get government spending under control, and on the other hand you have Democrat politicians encouraging more people to show up every day to take advantage of our natural kindness & largesse. There’s a lot of debate about what we do about illegals already here. Getting the border under control trumps them all.

  7. It’s about time we had a Representative who stood up and said what needs to be done. We have 12 to 20 million illegal aliens here already, we have over 15 million American citizens unemployed and these illegal aliens are taking jobs they need to pay bills and put food on the table not to mention all the entitlements they get from the American taxpayer, we can’t afford these freeloaders any longer. Over one million legal immigrants a year is too many in these economic times, it should be scaled back. As for your remark about jobs in the United States, they belong to American citizens not a bunch of illegal theives who sneak accross the border and steal them. Regarding the citizenship of babies born to illegal aliens this was not what the 14th amendment was meant for, they are not entitled to become a citzen by birth. Due to our crooked politicians and their hunger for power they are willing to sell the United States out just to remain in power. Mr. Navarette Jr., you are part of the problem not the solution. You should go to Mexico or where ever your ancestors are from and clean them countries up instead of trying to make the U.S. into another banana republic. God Bless America, may we return to a Constitutional govenment before long.

  8. Mr. Navarrette Jr.

    You imply employers who hire illegal immigrants should face stiff penalties.

    If so, why do you oppose a national ID card so employers can verify legal status before hiring?

    David Vrshek
    Houston, Texas

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