Tuesday was a rough day for the new face of the pro-amnesty movement. During the first House Judiciary Committee immigration hearing of the new Congressional session, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro made a passioned plea for giving amnesty to the nation's 11 million illegal aliens. But he had no answers to tough but reasonable questions from GOP Members who were open to debating a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first of several blogs that will discuss the issues debated at the House Judiciary Committee's immigration hearing held on February 5th)
Mayor Castro was thrust onto the national scene last summer when he was selected as the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. He holds a degree from Stanford University and a law degree from Harvard, and at the age of 27, he became the youngest elected councilman in San Antonio council history. He's young, energetic, charismatic, well-spoken, and an avid-supporter of amnesty making him the perfect witness to defend the merits of comprehensive immigration reform. Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte even gave Texas Reps. Sheila Jackson-Lee and Lamar Smith 15-seconds to welcome Mayor Castro to the hearing.
While Mayor Castro's opening statement contained the usual pro-amnesty talking points, he failed to include some important aspects of the Gang of Eight's amnesty proposal - workplace verification and completion of the entry/exit system. So it was rightfully so that Chairman Goodlatte and Rep. Randy Forbes questioned Mayor Castro's commitment to creating a permanent solution for our nation's broken immigration system. During his questioning, Chairman Goodlatte challenged him on his support of both workplace verification and visa overstays. Mayor Castro said he supported both.
When it was Rep. Forbes' time to question Mayor Castro, he challenged the Mayor on whether the Gang of Eight's plan, and the principles that the mayor himself laid out in his opening statement, would actually stop illegal immigration.
REP FORBES: "If I gave you this pen and asked you to go and take as long as you needed and draft this comprehensive piece of legislation, you brought it back before us, and we passed it out of here, and we passed it out of the Senate, and the president signed it into law, we know there will be some people that disagree with portions of it and circumvent it. Some people will break it. I want you to fast forward and 10 years from now we ask you come back and testify before us, and the number of people that circumvented the law were either 10 or 10 million. Should we be prepared to draft a new path to citizenship for those people that circumvented the law that you wrote?"
MAYOR CASTRO: "I know this has been a concern with regard to the 1986 law. In fact, I've been very pleased so far with the bipartisan effort, what's been proposed by the president and the Senate includes stronger interior enforcement…"
REP. FORBES: "You can say all you want for the record, but what I'm saying is you've written a law. We do everything we can, and despite our best efforts, there will be people who break that law and circumvent it. It may not be 10 million, it may be a million. For those individuals, should we be expected to write a new path to citizenship for however many there might be?"
MAYOR CASTRO: "With all due respect, I don't think that's a question that can be answered right now. It's such a hypothetical question. I believe that if Congress does an excellent job now…"
REP. FORBES: "Mayor, are you saying you don't believe that there will be people who won't circumvent the law no matter how well we write it. Is that your testimony?"
MAYOR CASTRO: "I'm not disagreeing, there won't be people who won't circumvent it."
REP. FROBES: "As for those individuals, should we be prepared to write a new path to citizenship for them?"
MAYOR CASTRO: "I believe that's a question that hopefully won't have to be answered by any significant measure from Congress in the future if you do the job right this time."
The biggest problem with Mayor Castro's response is that the 1986 amnesty law, which he himself brought up, included workplace verification provisions and increased border security and interior enforcement. Here we are 25 years later facing a similar situation. But instead of pointing to what he believed to be the specific flaws of the 1986 bill, he instead tried to "circumvent" the question, and when he did finally answer it, he had a superficial answer.
If Mayor Castro is truly interested in a permanent solution to illegal immigration, shouldn't he have been able to say, "the 1986 law required this, but it failed because....."? He could have given specific provisions from the law that failed, offered his solutions to those failed provisions, and explained why they would work. But he couldn't do that because either he doesn't know enough about past immigration law or he simply has no interest in stopping illegal immigration.
As Rep. Forbes said when he concluded, these are the questions that both the House and Senate are going to have to address before passing any legislation. Anyone who is genuinely interested in ending illegal immigration as part of a comprehensive bill shouldn't be afraid to confront these questions. And anyone who isn't interested in confronting these questions is only interested in rewarding illegal aliens with amensty.
Tomorrow, we'll take a look at the unanswered questions asked by Reps. Steve King, Trey Gowdy and George Holding.
CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Director of Content and Activism for NumbersUSA