Signaling their approach to immigration reform this year will be hawkish but not rhetorically extreme, House Republicans have chosen a Southern California congressman to head the group of lawmakers that drafts and introduces immigration policy.
The solidly pro-enforcement Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Simi Valley, was named Friday morning to lead the immigration subcommittee in the House of Representatives, which falls under the judiciary committee. House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, surprised many when he chose Gallegly over outspoken Iowa Republican Steve King, who was widely considered to have the job. King will instead be vice chairman.
Groups that work to halt illegal immigration praised news of the duo’s leadership, but liberal groups interpreted Gallegly’s higher position as a snubbing of King’s harsh tone.
“The answer to illegal immigration is fairly simple,” Gallegly said in a news release Friday. “First, we must enforce our laws and secure the border. Second, we must remove the magnets that encourage illegal immigration. Finally, we must remove the benefits that make it easy for them to stay.”
Gallegly said he would oppose any form of amnesty, and he pledged to quickly hold hearings to scrutinize the Obama administration’s approach to work site enforcement and to expand the use of E-Verify, a program for employer screening of workers’ immigration status.
Missing from Gallegly’s statements Friday was any mention of revoking birthright citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants, a hot-button cause that has been a pet issue for King and other immigration hawks. King introduced a bill earlier in the week that would end automatic citizenship for children born in the United States to illegal immigrant parents.
I am glad Elton has been appointed to this chairmanship. He is tough, but fair on illegal immigration.
And, he will actually get something done, meaning legislation will be written in the Congress. Getting it through the U.S. Senate will probably be difficult and past President Obama’s veto pen more than difficult – but that is another story.
Look for movement on E-Verify, employer sanctions and Congressional hearings if the Justice Department will NOT enforce existing immigration law.