During Tuesday's House Judiciary hearing, several of the GOP Republicans pursued a line of questioning with pro-amnesty witness, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, that discussed the idea of compromise especially when it comes to dealing with the 11 million illegal aliens living in the United States. Mayor Castro's response was that a path to citizenship is the compromise. His opposition to support anything short of a blanket amnesty is just one of the many road blocks standing in the way of "comprehensive immigration reform."
House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte was the first to question Mayor Castro and the first to pursue this line of questioning.
CHAIRMAN GOODLATTE: "Are there options we should consider between the extremes of mass deportation and a pathway to citizenship for those not lawfully here in the United States?"
MAYOR CASTRO: "I do believe that a pathway to citizenship should be the option our Congress selects. I don't see that as an extreme option. In fact, as one of the Representatives pointed out, if we look back at our history, generally what we've found is that Congress, over time, has chosen that option, that path to citizenship. I would disagree with that characterization of it as the extreme. The extreme to that would be open-borders. Nobody agrees with open-borders. Everyone agrees that we need to secure our border."
CHAIRMAN GOODLATTE: "The question is what to do about the 10 million people that are already here. Do you think others are open to finding some agreement between a path to citizenship and the current law to require deportation in many circumstances whether that's being enforced today or not?"
MAYOR CASTRO: "I believe that as the President has pointed out and the Senators who have worked on this from both parties, a path to citizenship is the best option. Now, I also understand at what you may be trying to get at; a guest worker program has been put out there. I know there are some concerns about how you would set that up, but if you want to deal with issues going forward, that may be one way to do it. However, in terms of the 11 million folks already here, putting them on a path to citizenship, ensuring that after they pay taxes, they pay a fine, they learn English, they get to the back of the line, that's the best option."
The former Judiciary Chairman, Rep. Lamar Smith, pressed Mayor Castro a bit more on the topic, asking him again if he thought a path to citizenship was a compromise.
Mayor Castro said, "the compromise is how difficult the path."
That's a telling statement because it contradicts what he told Chairman Goodlatte. He told him that the extreme position is open-borders. But he implied to Rep. Smith that the extreme is not open-borders, but rather a tough path to citizenship.
Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, who is the Chairman of the House Immigration Subcommittee, also took the compromise approach in his questioning of Mayor Castro.
REP. GOWDY: "Mr. Mayor, I want to make sure that I understand you clearly and fully. Can you support a path to legal status that does not end in citizenship"
MAYOR CASTRO: "No, I support a pathway to citizenship."
REP. GOWDY: "So there's no form of legal status that you would support short of full-fledged citizenship?"
MAYOR CASTRO: "I just don't believe that's in the nation's best interest."
REP. GOWDY: "So the answer is no?"
MAYOR CASTRO: "I believe that a pathway to full citizenship is what the Congress ought to enact."
REP. GOWDY: "I think you earlier referenced that as a compromise. I'm curious, a compromise between what? Because I don't hear anyone advocating for full-fledged citizenship without background checks. Or full-fledged citizenship without back taxes. Or full-fledged citizenship without fines. So it's a compromise between what?"
MAYOR CASTRO: "I think you would agree with me, Mr. Chairman, that the point that we're at, you're talking about the fact that they would have to pay a fine, they would have to go to the back of the line, they would have to learn English, that has been worked out as a compromise between Senators from different parties and House Members."
REP. GOWDY: "But my question to you is: that represents a compromise between what? Because I don't know anyone who's advocating against that. So you represent that as being a compromise. A compromise strikes me as a balance between two competing principles. I don't hear anyone advocating for full-fledged citizenship with no precedent at all. So how is that a compromise?"
MAYOR CASTRO: "It's a compromise in my mind because Senators from different parties came together and put together a framework. I'm sure they had their divergent views, so if we went to the beginning of the process, I'm sure there was some divergence in their views. What was put on the table, including the planks that you just stated, represents a compromised position."
Now Mayor Castro is all over the place.
First, a path to citizenship represents a compromise between open-borders and mass deportations. Then, a tough path to citizenship represents a compromise between an easy path to citizenship and mass deportations. And finally with Rep. Gowdy, a path to citizenship represents a compromise because that's what some bipartisan Senators came up with in a back room.
Which is it?
This concept of a path to citizenship being a "compromise" is important for a couple reasons. First, we know that some Congressional Republicans are pushing the idea of offering legal status to the nation's 11 million illegal aliens without a path to citizenship. Second, there is another group that supports a path to citizenship for some of the 11 million illegal aliens (i.e., DREAM Act), but don't support a path to citizenship for all.
Mayor Castro didn't even consider a more limited amnesty. The only one he advocated for is a blanket amnesty that includes all illegal aliens. In fact, when Rep. Randy Forbes (who I discussed in yesterday's blog) asked Mayor Castro if illegal aliens who had not committed a crime but were known members of violent gangs should be eligible for a path to citizenship, instead of saying no, he dodged the question.
Rep. Steve King then asked just how "open" Mayor Castro would like our immigration system to be, and we learned a little bit more about the Mayor.
REP KING: "I recall you mentioning that [legal immigration is] not a zero-sum game. That we can have both skilled workers and unskilled workers and family reunification. Zero-sum game always gets my attention because we have about 6.3 billion people on the planet, so that would be the universe that you've addressed. Do you believe there should be a limit to the number of people that are brought into the United States, especially if we can all have them be legal, and what is that number?"
MAYOR CASTRO: "I won't say that I could set a number for you right here. I will say of course, like every country, there are only a certain number of folks who will be permitted to enter the United States, but I just don't believe that it is a zero-sum game. I do think the answer is to increase the number of high-skilled immigrants, but also put the folks that are already here…"
REP KING: "But Mayor Castro, what I'm hearing here is that you wouldn't put a limit on any of those groups. You would just fill up those categories by the demand and that demand is potentially the entire population of the planet."
Rep. King didn't give Mayor Castro a chance to respond to his comment, but his initial response says a lot. As Rep. King noted, he dodged the first question - "should there be limits?" - and had no answer for the second question - "what should be the number of future flows be?".
If Mayor Castro isn't willing to state for the record that he thinks there should be numerical limits, and he has no answer for the annual number of future legal immigration flows, then doesn't he likely support an open-borders policy?
At least we know why he thinks a path to citizenship is a compromise.
CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Director of Content & Activism for NumbersUSA
Updated: Mon, Feb 11th 2013 @ 2:45pm EST