Politics can be brutal at times. We have seen especially in this bizarre election season that politics is not for the faint of heart. All previous rules governing behavior seem to have been thrown out of the window as civil dialog has been passed over in favor of uncontrolled vitriol. As jaded as I have become recently though I still was appalled as I watched the hearing held by the House Judiciary Subcommittee charged with oversight on immigration last week.
Before we get to what the hearing was about we should know what congressional hearings hope to achieve. Congressional hearings are an important part of the legislative process in that they provide a collective way for committee members to hear from experts on the possible impacts of policy ideas. All congressional staffers (should) do research for members of Congress they work for, but hearings are important because the information they find out through them is collective – all members of the committee are privy to the information and research that is shared and are able to better function as a committee to prepare legislation that will best reflect the mind of the collective committee and will be most effective and beneficial for the American public.
Ah, what a brilliant theory. Now let’s get to the sad, sick implementation of this theory currently being practiced by the House Judiciary Committee.
The hearing was called, “The Real Victims of a Reckless and Lawless Immigration Policy: Families and Survivors Speak Out on the Real Cost of this Administration’s Policies.” I know what you are thinking, when did Maury Povich suddenly become chairman of this House Judiciary Subcommittee? This is the kind of stupidity you would expect to find on day time TV talk shows, not from the supposed “leaders” of Congress. The purpose of the hearing, in reality, was to politicize the deaths of two innocent people at the hand of undocumented immigrants who died needlessly and tragically. The hearing was also designed to scapegoat the entire immigrant population because of the horrific acts of individual immigrants. The heartbreak of losing loved ones is only compounded when politicians take those deaths and trivialize them by trying to score political points as was done through this hearing.
But the reprehensible behavior was just beginning. In a hearing each side gets to call witnesses. The party in control – the Republicans – gets to decide what the hearing is about and gets to call the majority of the witnesses. The minority party – the Democrats – in this case called one. She is a Bishop of the United Methodist Church and someone I must say from the outset that I am biased in her favor, Bishop Minerva Carcaño. Bishop Carcaño has been a tireless leader in the struggle for immigrant rights and has been tasked by the United Methodist Council of Bishops to speak on the issue of immigration.
The majority of the members on the Republican side behaved like rude, classless, bullies. Special mention though must be given to Representative Trey Gowdy, Chairman of this subcommittee, who spent all of his questioning time yelling at the Bishop and demanding that she be quiet while he asked her questions and then repeatedly interrupted her to make statements and ask more questions before she could answer his previous question. Representative Labrador called the Bishop’s testimony “disgusting” and went on to say to her “because of you and people like you we aren’t fixing [the broken immigration system].” Rep. Steve King didn’t insult the Bishop because he was too busy encouraging law enforcement to engage in racial profiling.
So, this is what the process of policy research and information gathering has come to. Our elected members of Congress host what was meant to be a time of research and in-depth analysis to instead yell at witnesses who happen to hold dissenting views from them and the hearing breaks down into what essentially amounts to a food fight. This perfectly illustrates the fact that the legislative process isn’t broken, it is currently being held hostage by a gang of clowns – really mean, petulant, petty, small-minded clowns, otherwise known as the House Judiciary Committee. They refuse to address the issues of immigration in ways that will move the country forward to find real solutions to real problems that real people face every day.
This farce of a hearing benefits absolutely no one but their own objective of scoring political points. But I guess benefitting themselves is why they are in office.