Friday, May 19, 2006

Senate Republicans jumps the shark: Immigration reform is all about race.

For months the "enforcement only" House Republicans, their Senate allies and media mouthpieces have tried to convince the American people that their desire to shut the border, criminalize twelve million undocumented immigrants then force them to return home through what TomTancredo calls "attrition", has nothing whatsoever to do with racism or xenophobia. They've told us it's about "securing the border" in the wake of 9-11.or protecting native workers from unfair job competition. They've claimed that undocumented immigrants put undue stress on social services, don't pay their fair share of taxes and create problems with drugs and crime. But all along they've proclaimed loudly, "we have nothing against immigrants … we only want to stop illegal immigration".

Over and over we've heard how it's "only a matter of law", and that those who have enter the country "illegally" have broken the law and must be dealt with as such. From the House leadership on down, from Bill Frist, to John Cornyn, from Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity all we've heard is; "It's only about illegal immigrants, not immigration. We have nothing against those from other countries; in fact we welcome them with open arms if they come here legally"

Yesterday with a party-line vote of 63-39 the Senate Republicans finally jumped the shark and showed their true colors:

Amends: S.2611
Sponsor: Sen Inhofe, James M. [OK] (submitted 5/17/2006) (proposed 5/17/2006)
To amend title 4 United States Code, to declare English as the national language of the United States and to promote the patriotic integration of prospective US citizens.

``The Government of the United States shall preserve and enhance the role of English as the national language of the United States of America. Unless specifically stated in applicable law, no person has a right, entitlement, or claim to have the Government of the United States or any of its officials or representatives act, communicate, perform or provide services, or provide materials in any language other than English. If exceptions are made, that does not create a legal entitlement to additional services in that language or any language other than English. If any forms are issued by the Federal Government in a language other than English (or such forms are completed in a language other than English), the English language version of the form is the sole authority for all legal purposes.''.


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The Senate Republicans on Thursday did something the founding fathers intentionally avoided doing 230 years ago; they created a state sponsored "national language". Just as they intentionally formulated our system of government to preclude the establishment of a national religion, or a permanent ruling class, the founders chose not to establish a national language for good reason. Knowing that the growth and vitality of the nation would rely upon a constant flow of immigration, they realized that to alienate any group linguistically would amount to disenfranchisement. Having formed the nation as a direct result of their own disenfranchisement by the crown, they opposed anything that would prevent future citizens from exercising their inalienable right to representation. Our current day leadership obviously holds these rights in far less regard.

This decision by the Senate Republicans goes far beyond a lack of regard for the basic principles of the republic, but rather it says volumes about the true intentions and motivations for their campaign to "secure the border."

The establishment of a national language does nothing to secure the border and prevent terrorists from entering the country. It protects no US workers or jobs. But it does "protect" the Republicans and their followers for one thing … "others." It protects them from those who are different, who look different, eat different foods, listen to different music, have a different culture and speak a different language. It allows them to codify their fear. It allows them to once again appeal to the worst instincts in the American people, and hide behind coded language, patriotic slogans, and obfuscation.

The passage of this amendment proves what many have known all along. The immigration debate is not about security or "illegal" immigration. It's about immigrants, and for the most part "immigrants" means "Mexicans", and the language we must be protected from is Spanish. The people we must be protected from are Mexicans. Not just "illegal Mexicans", but all "Mexicans",(a group that conveniently seems to include all Latinos in the right wing mind.)

This amendment should be viewed as a wake up call to all involved in this debate. The Republicans briefly removed their masks, and revealed the true nature of their mission, a mission that has more to do with closed minds than closed borders.


For the record it must be noted that shortly after the passage of Mr. Inhofe's amendment an alternative was offered up by Democratic Senators Salazar, Durbin, Kennedy, Reid and Bingaman. Their amendment softened up of the language of the Republican passed one, and rendering it to a symbolic gesture rather than codified law.

Amends: S.2611
Sponsor: Sen Salazar, Ken [CO] (submitted 5/18/2006) (proposed 5/18/2006)
To declare that English is the common and unifying language of the United States, and to preserve and enhance the role of the English language

The Government of the United States shall preserve and enhance the role of English as the common and unifying language of America. Nothing herein shall diminish or expand any existing rights under the law of the United States relative to services or materials provided by the government of the United States in any language other than English.

For the purposes of this section, law is defined as including provisions of the U.S. Code the U.S. Constitution, controlling judicial decisions, regulations, and Presidential Executive Orders


This amendment also passed by a vote of 58-39, with all Democrats voting in the affirmative.

Although eleven moderate Republicans crossed the isle to support this version of the "English Language" amendment it must be remembered that the majority of their party failed to join them, and they were originally united in the support for the earlier proposal.

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