Houston Chronicle Blog: Immigration group warns Romney on Smith endorsement

"WASHINGTON – A leading immigrant advocacy group warned Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on Thursday that his endorsement by Rep. Lamar Smith, author of several immigration bills, could later haunt his White House aspirations in a general election.

Smith, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, endorsed Romney over his home state Gov. Rick Perry, earlier this week.

'The Obama campaign must be watching with glee,' said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a group that advocates comprehensive immigration reform and citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

'For a candidate whose best "vote for me" argument to Republicans is that he is electable in a potential general election match-up, Romney’s recent endorsements seem instead calculated to alienate Latinos and shrink the number of potential battleground states in the process,' Sharry said.

Romney has attacked Perry in televised debates over the Texas governor’s positions on immigration measures.

Perry signed a bill that allows children of illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition, and he has opposed a mandatory statewide E-Verify program that would require businesses to check a new employee’s immigration status against government data bases after the person is hired."  Read more …

 

NYT Opinion: So much for the Nativists

Here’s a Capitol riddle for you: Representative Lamar Smith, one of the most reflexively anti-immigrant hard-liners in Congress, is sponsoring a bill to flood the agriculture sector with up to half-a-million visas for guest workers. Understand why and you’re well on your way to unpacking the nation’s dysfunctional relationship with undocumented immigrants.

Mr. Smith, a Texas Republican who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has a bill to require every employer in the country to use E-Verify, the federal hiring database, and fire the workers it flags as unauthorized.

He says it will give American jobs back to Americans. But it has angered small-business owners, who know a job-killing regulation when they see one. And it has enraged the farm industry, where more than half of the work force is undocumented. Thus the need for Mr. Smith’s second bill, the American Specialty Agriculture Act.

A well-designed agricultural guest worker program is not a bad idea. Even when unemployment is above 9 percent, Americans don’t want to stoop in the fields anymore.

But this is an awful guest worker bill. It would create a system that is far worse than the current cumbersome guest worker program. It would let growers pay even lower wages and weaken the rules on providing workers with housing and reimbursing their travel expenses. Growers would get a break on having to certify that they tried to hire Americans first. Oversight would shift from the Labor Department, with its pesky insistence on wage-and-hour protections, to the Department of Agriculture, which has never run a program like this before.  Read more …