The Who's Who of Immigration Policy Making - the House Republicans

By David North on September 24, 2009

The six Republican members of the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law can be expected to struggle, probably in vain, to bring some restraint into proposed immigration legislation. The subcommittee is part of the House Judiciary Committee.

As noted in an earlier blog the ten Democrats on the subcommittee are all open-borders advocates, but all six Republicans get high marks for their restrictionist voting record from Numbers USA, which keeps track of such things. All six drew an A or an A plus on their report cards.

Generally the Republican subcommittee members tend to be newer to the House than the Democrats, with the former group averaging about 8.7 years of service by the end of 2009, compared to 13.8 years for the Democrats. The Democrats are a little stronger on lawyers, with seven of the ten holding law degrees; this is true of half of the Republicans.

The ranking Republican on the subcommittee is Steve King, who represents most of the largely rural western half of Iowa; he identifies himself as an "agri-businessman." He has been a member of the House, and the subcommittee, since 2003.

Two California Republicans bring heft and seniority to their part of the subcommittee: Elton Gallegly, with 23 years of service, and Dan Lungren, with 15. Lungren (not to be confused with Lofgren, the Democratic chair) had an earlier decade in the House before spending two terms as California's elected Attorney General.

Lungren had been the ranking Republican on the House subcommittee back in the 1980s when the Immigration Reform and Control Act, the last major re-write of the immigration law, was being drafted.

Also serving on the GOP side are: Gregg Harper, a Mississippi lawyer and a freshman member of the House, and Ted Poe of Texas, another attorney, who first arrived in the House following the election of 2004.

The other freshman Republican on the subcommittee, is Jason Chaffetz, who represents one of the most conservative areas in the nation, the Third District of Utah. That he is a member of the subcommittee is to be expected, given the history of his campaign for the House.

That Utah district had been represented for years by an otherwise conservative Republican named Chris Cannon. Cannon, however, followed the George W. Bush approach to immigration, and was an advocate of both a legalization program and of extensive use of H-1B non-immigrant workers, most of whom are computer programmers. In both 2004 and 2006 Cannon had hotly contested primaries with his opponents devoting a lot of attention to immigration issues; Cannon struggled to win the nomination both times, and then easily won the general elections that followed.

In 2008, however, Jason Chaffetz, who had been chief of staff to the Governor of Utah, was the restrictionist candidate in the GOP primary which he won handsomely, as he did the general election. Cannon was one of only two sitting Republican House members who lost their primaries that year.

Chaffetz brings an odd distinction to the Republican side of the subcommittee: his father, according to Wikipedia, had once been married to Kitty Dukakis, spouse to Michael Dukakis, the 1984 Democratic candidate for President.

If you enjoyed this blog, check out others in this series by David North: