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Report blasts Deal as anti-immigrant

POSTED: October 15, 2007 5:04 a.m.

A report released Tuesday claims that the members of the House Immigration Reform Caucus, including 10th District Congressman Nathan Deal, are nativist and anti-immigrant.

The Center for New Community Building Democracy Initiative, an organization that, according to its Web site, counters organized racism, anti-immigrant activity and other forms of bigotry through research, reported its findings of an examination of the caucus in a telephone press conference Tuesday.

The report claims that a majority of the caucus’ members are right-wing Republicans who aim to strip the protections of the 14th Amendment from the Constitution.

Devin Burghart, director of the Center for New Community’s Building Democracy Initiative, said the report was the first of its kind.

He said the report narrates the growth of the House Immigration Reform Caucus, assesses the legislation it has initiated and compiles data on the voting records of its members.

"The major findings are certain to initiate a much needed discussion by immigrant’s rights advocates, political moderates and those Americans who find themselves conflicted on immigration policy..." Burghart said.

One of the pieces of legislation the report mentions is the Birthright Citizenship Act of 2007, one that Deal introduced to the House. The proposed bill redefines which people, of those born in the United States, are considered citizens. If enacted, it would change the law so only children born of documented immigrants are considered citizens of the United States.

Right now, the bill is making its journey through House subcommittees and it continues to gain support, Deal’s Chief of Staff Chris Riley said.

"The congressman ... strongly believes that we ought to rescind automatic birthright citizenship," Riley said.

Riley said Deal’s legislation does not change the Fourteenth Amendment.

"The congressman believes that the Supreme Court should take another look at birthright citizenship since it last did in the late 1800s," Riley said.

Also, Riley said the bill cannot be considered anti-immigrant.

"That would be a stretch and an inaccurate assumption," Riley said. "I would encourage them to read it rather than attack it."

The text of the bill is included in the organization’s report.

Burghart said the caucus, with its 110 members, is one of the largest and most coherent forces in the House of Representatives. Minorities are few in the caucus, according to the report; all members are white, 102 are Republican and 14 are women.

"Until now, they’ve largely been virtually unnoticed and unexamined," Burghart said.

The report claimed that members of the Caucus have conservative voting records in terms of civil liberties, civil rights, the environment and support of labor. It said that 86 members of the caucus scored a zero on the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees’ congressional voter scorecards. Deal is one of the 86.

However, Riley said he has never heard of the Center for New Community’s Building Democracy Initiative, much less the report.

"What’s the building democracy initiative?" Riley asked when asked to respond to the organization’s findings.

Riley said the racial make-up of the HIRC was not important to its voting record, and said the report seemed to be a one-sided interpretation of the caucus’ voting record.

Riley suggested that people interested in the caucus’ voting records should also take a look at congressional voter scorecards compiled by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, because that organization is supportive of the immigration reform caucus.

"We’re talking about one associations scorecard of the Immigration Reform Caucus," Riley said.



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