After much delay and some indications that Rep. Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania would claim the position, Rep. Ted Poe of the 2nd District of Texas will lead the anti-immigrant movement’s voice in the United States House of Representatives, the House Immigration Reform Caucus (HIRC). Rep. Poe succeeds former chair Rep. Brian Bilbray, who was forced to relinquish the role after losing his seat to a Democratic challenger in November.
Much maligned and wildly controversial former Rep. Tom Tancredo, who founded the anti-immigrant caucus and once called Miami, Florida, “a third world country,” held the position before Bilbray.
Rep. Poe is stepping up from his position on the caucus’s Executive Committee, where he formerly held the position of “Task Force Chair: Costs of Illegal Immigration to America.” From his experience in that role, one can expect much of the same–HIRC will continue to carry water for the anti-immigrant movement from the offices of the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR) up to the Hill. As has been well-documented since the caucus’s launch in 1999, FAIR and its Congressional Task Force have long backed the work of HIRC.
FAIR has been producing a series of specific reports for each of the 50 states that supposedly lay bare, for example, “The Fiscal Burden of Illegal Aliens on Oregonians.” One can see how, via his former place on HIRC’s Executive Committee, Rep. Poe will be eager to amplify such tainted research for his colleagues from the well of the House.
And so, HIRC with FAIR as its backer has seen a man that once proudly quoted Nathan Bedford Forrest, founder of the Ku Klux Klan, from the well of the House become its leader. This certainly reaffirms the commitment to bigotry upheld by all of the aforementioned.
And so now the question stands, with discussions and debates regarding recent immigration proposals from the Senate and the White House already occurring, and with the intense media scrutiny of said interactions well-known, will House and Senate members of the GOP–red-state Democrats, in particular–lend their ears to the potential influence of a caucus that deems it wise to elect as its leader a man who finds wisdom in the words of the founder of America’s longest-standing terrorist organization that has wrought some of the most vicious and scarring racial violence this country has witnessed post-Reconstruction?
Furthermore, do they think it wise to follow the advice of a man who would have them believe that immigration enforcement is tantamount to capturing “grasshoppers from Brazil?” And what of Rep. Poe’s once forceful pronouncements of “birtherism”–a bigoted conspiracy that among HIRC members he has not been alone in brazenly entertaining?
Bluntly put, if Rep. Ted Poe’s promotion to HIRC’s top spot doesn’t further deafen the GOP to the anti-immigrant movement’s “self-deportation,” “attrition through enforcement” bigotry, then the only relevant question for those interested in immigration reform is this–what exactly will it take for the GOP to distance itself from such extremists?