At a press conference Tuesday, the key House Republicans working against immigration reform outlined their central arguments against the bipartisan bill moving through the Senate. While other House Republicans have embraced a path to citizenship, Reps. Steve King (R-IA) , Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Mo Brooks (R-AL), John Fleming (R-LA), Steve Stockman (R-TX), Lou Barletta (R-PA) and Lamar Smith (R-TX), have come out firmly against it.
Six congressman spoke Tuesday, touting the Heritage Foundation’s report on the costs of immigration reform, which was coauthored by a man who once argued Hispanics have a lower IQ. The co-author Jason Richwine has since resigned from Heritage.
But their arguments against the bill did not end with citing a discredited study. Here were their worst points:
1. King and Brooks cite Heritage, which has been panned by the right: “At no stage in their lives does the universe of those who would receive amnesty make a net financial contribution to this country, not a single stage, all those years,” King said. “That’s off Heritage Foundation report which many of you are familiar with.” Later, Brooks cited the core talking point from the study, that reform “costs American tax payers a 50-year net tax loss of $6.3 trillion.”
2. King thinks he could do Secretary Janet Napolitano’s job better: “I can tell you I could secure this border with the resources that we have in less than five years if you gave me Janet Napolitano’s job and a president that didn’t tie my hands.” The border is actually more secure than ever before.
3. Gohmert doubles down on his assertion that radical Islamists come across the border by adopting “Hispanic-sounding names”: “For those who made fun of me for commenting that we had radical Islamists that came across our borders trying to blend in with Hispanics, all they needed to do was get off their lazy rears and do a little research and find out the director of the FBI previously testified before our committee that you had radical Islamists who adopted Hispanic-sounding names, would go to places like Mexico, get identification papers, then try to blend in as if they were Latin Americans or Hispanic Americans and come across our border.”
4. Gohmert suggests 11 million undocumented immigrants may be a threat to national security. However, the Gang of Eight bill mandates background checks: “[D]o you think the system would be better if we add 11 million more people all of a sudden instantaneously for the FBI to check out and make sure they are not going to be a threat? There will be threats involved in that just as we saw in Boston when we had people who were linked to either terrorists or terrorism that were questioned.”
5. Gosar ignores legal immigration from the rest of the world: “We have to be sure we are embracing proper legal immigration. I’m a product of legal immigration. Both my grandparents came from Europe through Ellis Island. So we are a great melting pot of people.”
6. Brooks argues only rich immigrants should be allowed to arrive to the U.S.: America must limit immigrants to net tax producers, i.e., those people who we have confidence in who will generate more in taxes than they consume.” It is a myth that working class immigrants are “takers;” immigrants consume less in public resources and contribute taxes and to the labor force.