Congressmen Becerra of California and Barton of Texas spoke with CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux about immigration reform on The Situation Room. Barton favors strong border enforcement. His notion of the issue is black and white – that there’s legal and illegal immigration. He said that the positions between the two parties are “almost irreconcilable”. And yet Barton seems to be in favor of comprehensive immigration reform. He’d like to see an expanded guest worker program for the undocumented who are in the country. He recognizes that the problem of 11 million undocumented people in the country requires a political solution. But in a moment of doubt, he seemed to back off the idea of working toward a bipartisan solution when he made what I thought was a bizarre analogy:
“…I took my family to the movies yesterday. We paid $6 or $7 a piece to go into the movie. We didn’t just walk up to the ticket window and say we’re here, we’re good people, let us into the movie for free.”
(By the way, $6 for a movie ticket is a heck of a bargain – must be the special congressional discount).
First of all, people are not risking their lives to cross the border to get a shot at a free movie. Folks are coming here to work to support their families. If they are lucky, they’ll find work at $6 or $7 an hour. They come because there is a demand for their labor and as Congressman Becerra points out, they can make in an hour what they can make in a day back in their countries.
Malveaux asked whether the Republicans even need the Latino vote to which Barton replied that they did – that Latinos are the “cornerstone of our base”. He said that Latinos are conservative, family-oriented and have a strong work ethic. Latinos, the cornerstone of the conservative Republican base? Really? Were Latinos in Texas against the Dream Act? Apparently so because Representative Barton voted against it, and I can’t imagine that he would go against his Latino base. Now I could understand if he were a politician from Miami where the conservative Cuban-American base has some influence. But Barton lives in a border state. I’d rather imagine his base to be those who believe immigrants are a drain on the economy and should all be deported. If Latinos are the cornerstone of his base, he must be referring to a tiny stone.
What a minute, Joe Barton. Wasn’t he the guy who apologized to BP for being asked by the Obama administration to establish a 20 billion fund to compensate the victims of the BP oil spill disaster? As a recipient of over 1 million from the oil and gas industry, it wouldn’t surprise me if big oil formed the bedrock of Barton’s base.