House Immigration Hearing Is Stacked With Reform Opponents

House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)

Today marks the first hearing Congress will hold on immigration since the Senate and President Obama released their versions of basic principles to include in comprehensive immigration reform. In addition to keeping families together and creating a legalized workforce, immigration reform would add $1.5 trillion to GDP over 10 years. According to an AP-GfK poll, 62 percent of Americans back Congress’ renewed push to let immigrants stay and legally work in the U.S.

But at today’s House Judiciary Committee hearing on immigration, members won’t hear much in favor of the popular position on comprehensive reform. The two-panel hearing includes no representation from pro-immigration reform groups, and just one strong proponent, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro. The second Democratic witness is Migration Policy Institute Director Muzaffar Chishti, who testifies in the second panel.

Rather than hear the facts on a position most Americans favor — a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants — House Republicans, led by immigration hardliner Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), invited a set of opponents to immigration reform and proponents of increased border security.

Of the eight witnesses testifying, four are opposed to comprehensive immigration reform, and one is clearly in favor. Two witnesses come from academic backgrounds and don’t offer a clear position. Below is a sample of some of the opponents:

Julie Myers Wood, head of ICE under President George W. Bush: Wood’s controversial track record, for instance, includes awarding a costume prize to someone who appeared as a “Jamaican detainee” in “a striped prison uniform, wearing a dreadlock wig, and his face darkened with makeup.”

Jessica Vaughan, the Center for Immigration Studies: Center for Immigration studies is a group founded by anti-immigration activist John Tanton, and has earned a label as an intolerant group. In 2007, it was part of the successful network that fought against comprehensive reform. CIS’ claims of the costs of immigration have been thoroughly debunked by other groups.

Christopher Crane, Immigration Customs Enforcement President: Crane is head of the group that filed a suit against the Obama administration on so-called lenient policies they claim undermine officers from “enforcing many laws enacted by Congress.” However, deportation has gone up under the Obama administration.

Michael Teitelbaum, fellow of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation: Teitelbaum is a long-documented skeptic of increased legal immigration. The president of ImmigrationWorks USA told Talking Points Memo Teitelbaum is a worrying witness because he maintains there is no need for more worker visas.

The stacked hearing comes as little surprise since House Republicans come from districts that are typically much whiter and less Latino than Democratic members. 131 House GOP hail from districts that are more than 80 percent white.

Adam Peck contributed reporting