A Republican lawmaker admitted yesterday that his party is having difficulty moving forward with immigration reform due to deeply rooted racist animus expressed by a portion of their own constituent base.
In an interview with Buzzfeed, the Southern congressman, who wished to remain anonymous, explained that members of his party felt handcuffed and unable to pass a comprehensive immigration reform package due to fear of push back from hometown constituents.
“Part of it, I think — and I hate to say this, because these are my people — but I hate to say it, but it’s racial,” admitted the lawmaker. “If you go to town halls people say things like, ‘These people have different cultural customs than we do.’ And that’s code for race.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) added , “There will always be people [who have] different reasons for opposing the change. We have a history in this country of demagoguery when it comes [to immigration]. You know, ‘Irish Need Not Apply.’ There’s nothing new going on today that’s gone on before. This isn’t the first time that there’s been some ugliness around the issue of immigration.”
Despite widespread bipartisan support for immigration reform that would include a pathway to citizenship for undocumented children and immigrants who are already in the United States, progress has been glacial due in no small part to high profile members of the Republican party including Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who often uses incendiary rhetoric to bolster his national ambitions.
On Tuesday night, President Obama made immigration reform a major point of his inaugural address calling it ” …a responsible pathway to earned citizenship—a path that includes passing a background check, paying taxes and a meaningful penalty, learning English, and going to the back of the line behind the folks trying to come here legally.”