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Immigration Chairman Gallegly: Stalwart for 24 Years


Last week’s headlines announcing the perceived “snub” of Rep. Steve King for Chair of the Immigration Subcommittee were filled with the kind of rhetoric that those of us who favor lower immigration levels have gotten used to. But in the vilification of Steve King, some in the mainstream media and pro-amnesty groups failed to recognize the stellar 24-year immigration record of the new chairman, Rep. Elton Gallegly.

The New York Times labeled Gallegly as the “Surprise Choice for Immigration Panel,” while harsher headlines read “GOP rejects illegal immigration hardliner” and “Brash Congressman won’t lead immigration panel.”

But only one headline got it right: “Longtime Immigration Hawk Gets Post.”

Rep. Gallegly is among an elite group of Immigration-Reduction Champions. Only two other House Members have taken more constructive actions in their careers to reduce the flow of both illegal and legal immigration. The No. 3 champion Gallegly will be serving under the No. 1 champion, House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith.

Gallegly has earned a Career "A" Grade from NumbersUSA. He has a perfect score in 5 of our 9 categories, and only one category is less than 92%.

Rep. Gallegly

Rep. Gallegly

Last Congress, Gallegly sponsored 3 of our “5 Great Immigration-Reduction Bills” – the SAVE Act, the CLEAR Act, and the Visa Lottery elimination bill. He also introduced his own legislation - the Enforce Immigration Law Act of 2009 that would have required information sharing between the Department of Homeland Security and the IRS to help root out illegal aliens in the workplace.

And in 1995, Gallegly chaired an immigration task force, resulting in the Congressional Task Force on Immigration Reform Report that was sent to the Speaker in June of that year. Many of the proposals from that report were included in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. But to understand the real commitment Rep. Gallegly has to reducing immigration, one can look back to the debate of that 1996 bill.

In March of 1996, Gallegly had been hospitalized after suffering from flu-like symptoms and extreme dehydration. But Gallegly left his hospital bed one afternoon to deliver some remarks on the bill and cast a procedural vote.

"I don't feel well, but the nation's immigration laws aren't well, either," Gallegly was quoted as saying in an article from the Los Angeles Times. Gallegly insisted on having his voice be heard and offering amendments that would have further combatted illegal immigration.

Sick or not, Gallegly said he will struggle to the podium today to push two amendments--one to allow states to deny public schooling to illegal immigrants and another to implement a mandatory worker verification system in California and other high-immigration states.

"I've been working on this issue for nine years and I can't let some little episode keep me away," Gallegly said before leaving the hospital. "Barring an act of God, I will be there."

-- Los Angeles Times, "Gallegly Leaves Hospital Bed to Join Immigration Debate", March 20, 1996


Gallegly jokingly accused then-House Majority Leader Dick Armey of slipping something into his drinking water to silence him. Armey opposed many of the key provisions in the bill, but Gallegly said, “my body has rejected all the misinformation out there."

Congressman Steve King -- who earned the NumbersUSA's best rating of all 435 Members of the House in the previous four years -- would have made a great immigration subcommittee chairman, and it is easy to see why the open-borders groups rejoiced when he didn't get the decision. But fortunately, their joy is misplaced because Rep. King will be vice chairman behind a man who got the chairmanship instead because of 16 years more seniority and who himself is a true less-immigration stalwart.

CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Director of Content and Activism for NumbersUSA

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