Jim Clark: Amodei connecting with Latino constituents
Republican Congressman Mark Amodei is doing an excellent job representing Nevada. He has been instrumental in advancing a lands bill which will simultaneously create a huge copper mine opportunity in Northern Nevada as well as a 48,000 acre nature preserve … a real win for Nevadans.
He has successfully advanced more bills than any other freshman congressman of either party and, as recently reported in the Reno Gazette Journal, is able to achieve bipartisan cooperation through a combination of affability and logic.
Following Mitt Romney’s defeat in 2012, the Republican National Committee announced that the GOP must start wooing Hispanic voters. I recently found out that Amodei has quietly been doing that all along.
Once a quarter he hosts a breakfast meeting for Northern Nevada Latino business owners and community leaders. I was fortunate enough to wangle an invitation to such a meeting last week in Reno. The crowd was an interesting mix of Latinos … right-leaning business leaders and left-leaning community organizers.
Amodei’s subject was immigration. He noted that although there have been demands for a comprehensive immigration law the subject is in fact divided into a number of distinct problems that need fixing. And even when you can get a majority of votes in the House on some issues you can’t on others hence a comprehensive bill is doomed from the start.
He added that about 40 House Republicans (for instance Peter King, R-N.Y., Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn.) would vote “no” on any immigration liberalization measure so it will take some Democrats to pass anything.
Although the Senate claims to have cobbled together such a bill it is woefully deficient. The proposal had only one public hearing and some Republicans voted for it knowing it would fail in the House because an election is coming up.
Amodei pointed out that “immigration” issues include: low skilled workers, amnesty, legal worker status, high skilled workers (H1b visa holders), “Obama Dream Act” beneficiaries, national security (which includes the Canadian border) and most recently the flood of unaccompanied Central American children coming across our southern border.
The congressman cited some examples of why immigration issues are so difficult to find answers for. The American Dream Act has floated around the capitol for some time, never coming to a vote. The measure would cull out a “legality” status for children of illegal immigrants who are in the U.S. unlawfully through no fault of their own. The measure would exempt from deportation any such children who were either enrolled in school or who serve served in the military.
Frustrated with Congress, President Obama encapsulated the law as an executive order effective for two years. Beneficiaries were required to furnish detailed personal information to avail themselves of the measure. Some congressmen decided since that was already an administrative law the House should pass it as legislation and send it to the Senate so it looked like something was getting done.
Amodei accepted this logic and then read the bill. There was no requirement to furnish personal data and the bill was not retroactive to the date of the executive order. The effect would have been to disenfranchise all those children of illegals who benefited from Obama’s executive order making them liable to deportation. And, unlike older illegals, the government had everyone’s name and location. The bill died a well-deserved death.
The question and answer period which followed clearly showed that Amodei is connecting with his Latino constituents, liberal and conservative, with statements like: “Latinos are 25 percent of my constituents and they deserve to be heard whether they agree with me or not.”
I wish more GOP elected officials would follow his leadership example.
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates and has served on the Washoe County and Nevada State GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.