How to be supportively un-supportive? What’s to be done by a Nevada Congressional Representative who fancies himself a popular member of the Tea Party Wing of Wing-Nuts Intl. on the subject of comprehensive immigration reform when he’s representing a district in which there are some 108,410 individuals accounted as Hispanic or Latino in the last census? (15.4%) of the total district population. [Census] Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3) may be dancing as fast as he can.
One dance partner — the Las Vegas Tea Party sought to counter a pro-immigration policy reform event at Heck’s office on June 24, 2013 with some counter demonstrators of their own, the Anti-Amnesty crusaders. [LVTP] By their lights any path to citizenship is “amnesty” and hence unacceptable, as Heck discovered in a July 2 town hall session. [LVRJ]
Possible Dance Moves
Slip and Slide: Representative Heck has been providing reporters with essentially the same answer to immigration policy reform questions for months. The message boils down to “I like it, if there are sufficient safeguards…” Indeed, Heck hasn’t moved too far from his official website’s declaration on what constitutes a safeguard:
“Those provisions are improved border enforcement, a modern e-verify system, a more sustainable guest worker program, and improvements in the current legal immigration system. Finally, while I oppose blanket amnesty, I am open to considering proposals that address earned citizenship. ” [Heck]
Here’s where the slide part enters the picture. Heck wants “more border enforcement,” a “more sustainable guest worker program,” a “modern e-verify system,” and “improvements in the current legal system.”
It’s not obvious what could possibly constitute more border enforcement along the U.S. border with Mexico than that which is contemplated in the current bill — which would authorize one border agent for every 1,000 feet. In short, adding another 20,000 agents to the 18,500 already stationed along the southern border. [YNews] However, all that Rep. Heck would have to do to slide by this notion is to declare that short of a Chinese Wall, a moat with alligators, an electrified fence, and land mines…nothing is sufficient border security.
What is a “sustainable guest worker program?” Is it a guest worker program which allows Silicon Valley companies to hire computer hardware and software engineers from abroad to import technology workers? Is it a guest worker program which keeps tomato farms in Florida stocked with help? Who has to be happy in order for the program to be characterized as “sustainable?” How might a Representative with qualms about voting in favor of the current comprehensive immigration policy reform bill use the qualifier “sustainable?”
Precisely what would have to happen in order for the e-verify system to be declared “modern?” Again, there’s a qualifier, and where there’s a qualifier there’s a way towards the exit.
Finally, exactly WHAT improvements in the current legal immigration system is Heck seeking? More qualifiers mean more exit ramps.
The more qualifiers attached to a statement of support, the more likely it is in political realms to be listening to a politician establishing how he will oppose a bill than to be hearing genuine enthusiasm for a measure.
Talk Much Do Little: Passivity can do wonders for a political career. If a Representative is not signed on to a bill as a co-sponsor, and isn’t leading either the proponents or the opponents, then often that person can wait for any outcome, and use the slip and slide qualifiers to determine a final decision. All one has to do is Nothing — no call for a floor vote, no signature on a discharge petition, no nothing. Should a bill fail without a floor vote our intrepid Representatives can argue, “I supported the bill but it never came up for a vote.” (and I did nothing to promote the idea that it should.)
Get in Line and Dance: The problem for Representative Heck is figuring out which line to join in the current ideologic mess that’s the Republican Party in the 113th Congress. There’s the Steve King (R-IA) line which touts that immigration reform will unleash the onslaught of violence throughout the land. [TPM] There’s Sen. Marco Rubio’s imaginary “threat” of the President taking executive action on immigration reform (read “amnesty”) if the House doesn’t move. [Politico] And, there is a confusing slurry of points in between, Heck’s included.
For all the ink expended on trying to calculate where Rep. Heck will land on the topic of comprehensive immigration policy reform, it may come down to a political calculation in part influenced by the momentum gained by his opponent Erin Bilbray?