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“Process is a very big deal. People have to be heard. People were elected here to be legislators not just voters. And so they have to be involved in the process,” Lankford said.
“I’m a big fan of open process and regular order. I personally would like to come up through the committees of oversight and then go to the floor and let the House wield its way,” said Rep. Steve Southerland II, R-Fla., the sophomore class representative.
Seven years ago, Hazleton passed a law to prohibit businesses from hiring illegal immigrants and landlords from accepting them as tenants, but a court quickly struck it down.
Barletta said that the lawsuit was filed by illegal immigrants who lived in his city and that the judge in the case agreed to shield their identities to protect them from arrest and possible deportation.
“I never saw our accusers. I don’t know their names. I believe that the judge gave illegal aliens more rights than a United States citizen would have,” Barletta said.
Barletta noted that Homeland Security officials say they are already observing an increase in people crossing the border as Congress talks about providing a path to citizenship for people who are already here. And he is firm in his positions on the harm that illegal immigration causes and how pessimistic he is that any new bill will actually secure the border.
But, like other opponents of a comprehensive bill of late, he is surprisingly defensive, seeming to have internalized criticisms in the press as well as the momentum among Republicans to pass a bill.
“Many times, when you take the position like I do, people will say, ‘Well, that’s anti- immigrant.’ I’m probably the strongest voice for immigrants in America! If you’re an immigrant here in the United States, I don’t think it’s good to bring 20 million people here to take your job away from you. You came here for an opportunity. We are stealing the opportunities away from immigrants,” Barletta said.
“We are where we are with the momentum in the Republican Party,” Iowa Rep. Steve King, another strong opponent of illegal immigration, said at a recent pen-and-pad with reporters. “That momentum was started by people who wanted to make an excuse, I believe, for the election results that they had promised would be otherwise.”
There are differing opinions on how far the momentum will take the issue, however.
“The media says it’s a train that’s already left the station. I’m not so sure of that,” Rep. John Fleming, R-La., said.