Tag Archives: borders

Red Herring Bill Threatens Public Lands, Public Health & Jobs

Today in America, 14 million people are out of work through no fault of their own, dragging our economy ever closer to another recession. The first priority of Congress should be to create jobs. The American Jobs Act, which would add nearly two million jobs to the economy, is being summarily dismissed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, the GOP leadership asks us to consider absurd bills like H.R. 1505, which this week passed the House Committee on Natural Resources, where I sit as a Member.  This legislation will hand over control of all public lands within 100 miles of the borders – like our national parks, forests, and beaches – to U.S. Customs and Border Protections.  Ironically, it’s named the National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act. Under H.R. 1505, without any public notice, U.S. Customs and Border Protection could build roads and gates and install surveillance equipment in places that Americans treasure – from Glacier National Park in Montana to Cleveland National Forest in California and Olympic National Park in Washington. This legislation would, in effect, hand over the keys to many of the most beautiful places in America – places you and I own as the birthright of being an American, places that with proper stewardship our great grandchildren will one day own too.  

H.R. 1505 is the latest chapter in the ongoing story of a Republican Congress that is attacking decades of environmental protections – and their efforts are getting increasingly creative and desperate. This bill would exempt U.S. Customs and Border Protections from complying with dozens of popular protections for public health and our environment, including the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and even the Farmland Protection Policy Act, which aims to preserve America’s agricultural lands. I’ve been in public service for decades, and I can’t recall a time when public lands were ever under such repeated assault by people who are dutifully sworn to protect them.  

There are several unanswered questions about how this legislation would impact rural communities, potentially decimating their economies and destroying local jobs.  The national outdoor recreation economy – which includes camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, and many other activities – contributes $730 billion annually to the U.S. economy and supports nearly 6.5 million jobs across America. How will H.R. 1505 affect areas that depend on outdoor recreation as their economic engine?  At a time of high unemployment in rural areas, we can’t afford to let that question go unanswered.

Disguised in the name of border security, this bill undermines the future of our national parks and forests, rolls back landmark environmental protections, and opens to the door to increased economic uncertainty in rural communities.  We must stand strong against H.R. 1505 and any further attempts by Republicans in Congress to attack our public lands.

Congressman John Garamendi sits on the House Natural Resources Committee. He previously served as the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Interior Department under President Bill Clinton and as the chair of the California State Lands Commission.

Royce, Bilbray, and the Immigration “Hall of Shame”

This week, it’s the 104th anniversary of Ellis Island’s one-day peak – the day when more immigrants were welcomed than any other in American history. On April 17, 1907, 11,747 immigrants became Americans – and that was just at Ellis Island.

Today, 104 years later, America is stuck in the mud with a broken immigration system. Americans want reform that unites families, promotes fair employment practices, and restores America’s place as a nation that welcomes those seeking freedom from persecution and a better way of life.

This week, Immigrants’ List — a bipartisan political action committee dedicated to electing pro-immigration lawmakers – unveiled the 2011 inductees into the Immigration Hall of Shame. In the Hall of Shame are California’s own, Reps. Ed Royce (#3) and Brian Bilbray (#6), who have earned places alongside the likes of Michele Bachmann and Steve King.

Hall of Shame – April 2011 Inductees

1. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) – A man who cites the Bible in his opposition to immigration reform, King favors an electrified wire border fence, arguing “we do that with livestock all the time.” King believes that undocumented immigrants can be detected from their clothing and “the type of grooming they might have,” and labeled the DREAM Act “amnesty.” Alarmingly, King vice chairs the House Immigration Subcommittee – the first stop for every immigration bill.

2. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) – According to Lamar Smith, the guaranteed 14th Amendment right to birthright citizenship is a “misinterpretation,” which Smith plans to remedy with a ban on that right that can “get five votes” on the Supreme Court. Such a posture would be troubling enough from any member of Congress, but coming from the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, it’s downright dangerous.

3. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) – After calling for a national version of the Arizona SB 1070, Royce has announced new legislation to give local police Arizona-style powers over immigration. An active leader in the House’s leading anti-reform caucus, Royce supports forcing hospitals to gather information on possible undocumented immigrants, and opposes increasing visas for skilled workers.

4. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) – Always a lightning rod of controversy, Peter King has been in the headlines recently for scapegoating Muslim citizens. But we should remember that King has a long history of scapegoating and marginalizing all immigrants; he fought to ban the use of Spanish by government agencies and authored a bill to ban drivers’ licenses for undocumented workers because they are “potential terrorists.” King chairs the Homeland Security Committee, which has a major role in immigration reform legislation.

5. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) – The potential presidential candidate has a history of inflammatory statements which go along with her outlandish voting record. She’s spread the widely-debunked rumor that Phoenix is “the kidnap[ping] capital of the United States,” using that myth to justify her support for an armed presence on the border. She’s advocates Arizona SB 1070, and told Bill O’Reilly that all local law enforcement should be required to ask for proof of immigration status. Bachmann chairs the House Tea Party Caucus.

6. Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA) – Having built a career spreading fear about our broken border, Bilbray now helms the House’s anti-immigration reform caucus, where he’s leading the fight for an Arizona SB 1070-style bill. Discontent with mere anti-immigrant legislation, Bilbray has spread rumors that President Obama will issue amnesty by decree, and “the human smuggling, prostitution, murder and virtual enslavement of human beings” is happening because immigrants are “drawn to this nation by… taxpayer-funded jobs.”

7. Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) – While campaigning for Senate last year, Boozman wrote that “our schools, our hospitals and our jobs are being compromised by the influx of illegal immigrants.” His solution? Eliminating the Constitutional right to birthright citizenship, reducing overall legal immigration, and spreading rumors that President Obama “may grant amnesty through an Executive Order.”

8. Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC) – In word and deed, Shuler is eager to prove that obstructionism is bipartisan. The top Democrat in Congress’s largest anti-reform caucus, he worked with Tom Tancredo to author the SAVE Act, which would deport 12 million undocumented immigrants, was backed by NumbersUSA, and would’ve taken a large step towards militarizing America’s border.

9. Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI) – One of the leading proponents of the baseless rumor that the Obama administration is behind a “backdoor amnesty” program, Candice Miller chairs the Homeland Security Border Subcommittee. She co-sponsored the deportation-only SAVE Act, and won the support of Lou Dobbs for her fear-mongering that undocumented workers will gain political power due to the 2010 Census counting “persons,” not “citizens.”

10. Rep. Ben Quayle (R-AZ) – Heralded as a “true reformer” by the notoriously anti-immigration NumbersUSA, Ben Quayle exemplified the worst political impulses when it comes to immigration, exploiting fear and misinformation to ride into office. Quayle made election promises to reduce the overall number of immigrants allowed in America, erect a Pacific-to-the-Gulf electrified fence, and send the National Guard to patrol the border. These efforts may have won him the support of Chuck Norris, but here’s a fact for Chuck Norris and Ben Quayle: your scare tactics draw out the status quo – preventing meaningful reform, breaking up families, and putting America at risk.

Immigration is a fundamental part of America’s heritage and is essential to the growth and prosperity of our nation. That’s a fact. It’s central to our American character.

And it’s something these ten have forgotten.

View the Hall of Shame, share with friends, and sign-up for more information at our website.