When Jossimar Diaz-Castro asked House Judiciary Committee Chairman Goodlatte (R-VA) at a town hall event on Monday night about the bipartisan Senate immigration bill, Diaz-Castro probably did not expect to be asked if he is undocumented.
Diaz-Castro pointed out that the Senate bill includes border security benchmarks, which falls in the purview of Goodlatte’s strong emphasis on border enforcement. As Goodlatte moved on to dismiss the Senate bill, he brought up the issue of undocumented youths and peculiarly inquired whether Diaz-Castro was also undocumented:
DIAZ-CASTRO: I was a bit troubled… by your affirmation that the border security be dealt with before documentation is given to immigrants [...].
GOODLATTE: [...] I mentioned earlier people were brought here at an early age. Are you one?
DIAZ-CASTRO: Uh, no.
GOODLATTE: You’re not, but I know that there are some here and I’ve met a number who were brought here illegally by their parents maybe five years old, maybe ten years old. They’ve grown up here. This is their country that they live in. They’ve been educated here. They now want to face the world. They don’t have documents. I understand that. But I also understand how wrong it is for a family to take a small child across the desert through dangerous tunnels, in the backs of tractor trailers, and I don’t want to see it happen again.
Watch it starting at the 10:34 mark.
Diaz-Castro is a self-identified permanent resident, but he did not make any reference to his immigration status prior to Goodlatte’s question. An undocumented youth eventually did take the floor to ask Goodlatte a question about so-called DREAMers, or undocumented youths who were brought to the country by their parents, but her appearance came well after Diaz-Castro asked his question.
Soon after the town hall, the Staunton News Leader issued an editorial which challenged Goodlatte for making a racially-charged assumption that Diaz-Castro was undocumented. The since-pulled editorial stated, “Several times Monday night, [Goodlatte] pointed out he was chairman of the Judiciary Committee. His bias doesn’t count for just one vote among 435. Instead, he has veto power over the entire debate. How sad that a man with so much influence makes such large assumptions.”
The Staunton News Leader has since issued a response for pulling its editorial, citing that they “mistakenly took U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte to task over an exchange with an audience member.” Yet these kinds of assumptions are why racial-profiling lawsuits gain such momentum within the Latino community. In Maricopa County alone, Sheriff Joe Arpaio was mandated by the Department of Justice to stop immigration enforcement because he racially-profiled Hispanics.