Monday, February 27, 2006

AILF -- Playing Politics with Immigration

Immigration Policy Center (IPC)


...providing factual information about immigration and immigrants in the United States.


February 27, 2006

Despite the public's demand for a sensible and straightforward response to the ongoing problem of undocumented immigration, in December 2005 the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4437, the Border Protection, Anti-Terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act. This bill would, among other things, make felons of all undocumented immigrants as well as persons who assist them, a group that potentially includes religious workers, social workers, and librarians. One explanation for why so many congressional representatives would choose to spend precious legislative time on a proposal that offers little hope of actually reducing undocumented immigration might be that the members of Congress with the fewest undocumented immigrants in their districts were the most likely to support the bill. Lawmakers whose constituents experience relatively little impact from undocumented immigration have the luxury of playing politics on the issue rather than confronting it directly. When the immigration debate shifts to the Senate in March, one can only hope that lawmakers there will adopt a more serious approach and rely less on political posturing than their colleagues in the House.

Among the findings of this report:

Among representatives from the 61 congressional districts with 50,000 or more undocumented immigrants, a mere 5 percent (3 out of 61) supported H.R. 4437: none of the 53 Democrats and only 3 of the 8 Republicans.

Among representatives from the 96 congressional districts with fewer than 5,000 undocumented immigrants, 74 percent (71 out of 96) voted for H.R. 4437: 90 percent of Republicans (56 out of 62) and 44 percent of Democrats (15 out of 34).

Roughly 67 percent of all representatives who supported H.R. 4437 come from districts with an undocumented population of less than 15,000, while 62 percent of the representatives who opposed the bill have 15,000 or more undocumented immigrants in their districts.

About three-fifths of the Republicans who opposed H.R. 4437 represent districts with 15,000 or more undocumented immigrants, while four-fifths of the Democrats who supported the bill are from districts with fewer than 15,000 undocumented immigrants.

Read the entire report at:

For more information contact Benjamin Johnson at (202) 742-5612.

The Immigration Policy Center (IPC) is dedicated exclusively to the analysis of the economic, social, demographic, fiscal, and other impacts of immigration on the United States. The IPC is a division of the American Immigration Law Foundation, a nonprofit, tax-exempt educational foundation under Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

American Immigration Law Foundation
918 F Street, NW - Washington, DC 20004

PLAYING POLITICS ON IMMIGRATION: Congress Favors Image over Substance in Passing H.R. 4437

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