Email #242: “joking”?

I saw that President Trump mentioned you by name in his speech to Long Island police officers late last month:

“We’re also working with Chairman Bob Goodlatte on a series of enforcement measures — and he’s a terrific guy — to keep our country safe from crime and terrorism — and in particular, radical Islamic terrorism. A term never uttered by the past administration. Never uttered. Did anybody ever hear that term? I don’t think so. But you heard it from me.”

The speech received negative attention because a paragraph earlier the President told the officers “please don’t be too nice” when making arrests:

“Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over? Like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody — don’t hit their head. I said, you can take the hand away, okay?”

New York police commissioner James P. O’Neill responded: “To suggest that police officers apply any standard in the use of force other than what is reasonable and necessary is irresponsible, unprofessional and sends the wrong message to law enforcement as well as the public.” Other law enforcement officials and organizations condemned the remark too, but Blue Lives Matters tweeted, “It was a joke,” and Tom Rogan of the Washington Examiner also said, “Trump was clearly joking.” What is your opinion? Was the President making a joke, and if so, was the joke irresponsible?

Regarding President Trump’s reference to you, I was not aware that you were working on radical Islamic terrorism. Could you please explain what the President meant? He did go on to mention legislation that you are working on:

“That includes cracking down on sanctuary cities that defy federal law, shield visa overstays, and that release dangerous criminals back into the United States’ communities. That’s what’s happening. They’re releasing them. So many deaths where they release somebody back into the community, and they know it’s going to end that way. That’s the sad — they know it’s going to end that way.”

While we disagree about whether jurisdictions should have a choice to allocate their local tax dollars to make their police serve as federal immigration officers, the President’s argument is one of the worst I’ve heard in favor of your legislation. Sanctuary cities are not releasing dangerous criminals. They are simply not investigating the immigration status of the people they arrest. And what does the President even mean when says “they know it’s going to end that way”? Does he believe these cities release murderers knowing that they are going to commit more murders? Or was he just joking then too? Joking or not, if the President tries to use this argument to persuade the Senate to pass your anti-sanctuary legislation, it is doomed to the same fate as the American Health Care Act.

I presume you continue to support President Trump because you still imagine he’s the best chance you have of advancing your own legislative agenda, but he is proving counterproductive even at that.

But at least he thinks you’re “a terrific guy.”

Email #210: “Republicans are Delivering”?

You have told constituents in private meetings that you’re involved in a lot of bipartisan work behind the scenes. If so, why do you then negate that work in your public statements and in your legislative approach?

Before the House passed your immigration bills last Thursday, your press release headline read: “Goodlatte: House Republicans are Delivering on Promise to Strengthen Immigration Enforcement.” While your anti-sanctuary bill did receive almost exclusive GOP support (I didn’t check names, but 195 Representatives voted against it, and 193 Representatives in the House are Democrats), your so-called “Kate’s Law” passed with the help of 24 Democrats. That’s about 1/7th of the Democrats in the House, so not a resounding bipartisan effort, but still, I applaud the movement in a centrist direction. Why aren’t you?

So you wrote one bill that hardens the Democrat-Republican divide and one that begins the more difficult and important job of building bridges. Which of the two bill do you think has any chance in the Senate?

Similar bills were defeated there last term when the GOP held 54 seats. Now they hold 52. And that slim margin applies only if eight Democrats join all of the Republicans to reach 60 votes to end any filibusters. Maybe Kate’s Law will achieve those thresholds. But why did you write and promote it in such a partisan way knowing that you needed Democratic support for it to reach the President’s desk? Why not craft bills with Democrats in mind? Or at least in such a way that doesn’t intentionally repel them? Why not take advantage of the vast middle ground instead of always pandering to the far right?

I understand why you might feel the need to waste so much legislative time and effort making pointless political statements on an election year, but six months into a new session is a bipartisan opportunity you’re squandering for no reason.

Email #207: “Integrity Restoration”?

You say your so-called Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act “empowers state and local communities.” According to your House Judiciary Committee press release:

“Currently, states or localities that do not want refugees resettled within their communities have no recourse. The bill remedies this issue and prevents the resettlement of refugees in any state or locality that takes legislative or executive action disapproving resettlement within their jurisdiction.”

And yet your anti-sanctuary bill removes power from local communities. Under the so-called No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, localities that do not want their police using local tax-funded resources enforcing federal immigration laws within their jurisdictions will have no recourse.

The anti-sanctuary passed the House on Thursday. Your House Judiciary Committee approved the refugee bill on Friday. So within 24 hours you argued that local communities should choose for themselves how to handle immigration issues and also that local communities should be stripped of that power.

Since all of the Judiciary Committee’s Republican members also voted for both bills, it seems the Republican party does not care about the contradiction. You are treating a core conservative principle like a prop, holding it up when it makes for good advertising, and ignoring it when it contradicts your legislation-of-the-moment.

While your casual hypocrisy is startling, it seems you do have one principle when it comes to immigration: always take the position most inhumane to the immigrant. You could pose that in positive terms and argue that you are enacting an “America First” policy and so always favoring citizens against non-citizens. But when citizens take pro-immigrant stances you vote to take that power away from them, and when citizens take anti-immigrant stances you vote to further empower them. So your actions aren’t motivated by citizens.

You are “Anti-immigrant First,” a policy that seems both inhumane and un-American.