In an effort to win the Republican primary in Minnesota's First Congressional District on August 12, challenger Jim Hagedorn has delved into immigrant bashing about the humanitarian crisis on the U.S. Mexican border, as thousands of unaccompanied children fleeing poverty and violence enter the United States without proper documentation.
Hagedorn compares the crisis to a "flash mob" prompted by a "text" from Obama, an executive order halting deportations of young immigrants who grew up in this country after being bought to the United States by their undocumented parents.
The statements recall earlier controversy prompted in 2009 when Hagedorn sought the 2010 endorsement--and researchers discovered his now-scrubbed blog, "Mr. Conservative."
The latest sensitivity from Mr. Hagedorn
For Hagedorn, it's another opportunity to get offensive in the pursuit of his ambition to beat endorsed Republican candidate Aaron Miller by appealing to the basest of the base. We suspect he's going for the Brat anti-immigration mojo that put the Virginia econ prof on the path to defeating former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in their district's primary.
In Hagedorn: Walz a Failure on Border Security, the Mankato Times reports:
Republican congressional candidate Jim Hagedorn (MN-1), Blue Earth, harshly criticized President Obama and congressional proponents of the DREAM Act and amnesty for illegal aliens for failure to defend the sovereignty of the United States and protect the nation from a huge flood of illegal immigration.
Hagedorn charged that Obama’s 2012 executive order nullifying deportation of illegal aliens brought into the United States before they turned age 16, and no older than 30, has led to the recent influx of tens of thousands of Central American trespassers, causing chaos for the Border Patrol, massive taxpayer liability and probable entrance of Islamic terrorists, drug smugglers and gang members into the United States.
“Obama’s 2012 executive order halting deportation of so called Dreamers, which I believe to be unconstitutional, and the reckless push for amnesty by liberal members of Congress like Tim Walz, effectively served as a text message to entice tens of thousands of illegal immigrants to gather as a “flash mob” on the North side of the Rio Grande,” said Hagedorn. [emphasis added]
This is malarkey. Perhaps the best examination of the situation are found in the Cato Institute's write-up by Alex Nowraseth, Unaccompanied Minors Crossing the Border–The Facts. The analyst walks readers through the details, poiting out that the reluctance to immediately deport the children isn't based in DREAMer politics, but another law entirely:
The real bottleneck is in detention facilities, not the numbers of border patrol agents on the ground. As the New York Times reported:
“While the Obama administration has moved aggressively to deport adults, it has in fact expelled far fewer children than in the past. Largely because of a 2008 federal law aimed at protecting trafficked children, the administration in 2013 deported one-fifth the number of Central American children as were expelled in 2008, according to federal government statistics.”
The 2008 act, the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2008, forced U.S. official to inquire into the vulnerability of unaccompanied minors to trafficking and other forms of abuse. U.S. officials were then only allowed to deport the children quickly if they make a voluntary decision to return. Longer processing times created by the 2008 act mean longer wait times for the minors in immigration detention facilities.
And that text? Politico's David Rogers pointed out in Flood of child migrants a neglected challenge:
She [Elizabeth Kennedy, a doctoral candidate at San Diego State University] has studied the crisis from both sides of the U.S. border, including a stint now as a Fulbright fellow in El Salvador. All the Salvadoran children must cross Mexico at some point to get to the U.S. — and many are intercepted and turned back by Mexican authorities. Kennedy has collected over 400 interviews by going to the migrant return center and talking with waiting family members and their children once they arrive.
“Most of the children I meet at the bus return center will try again, and some will reach the United States,” she said. “I’m in contact with 20 who have done so since I got here in October. I’m sure others have arrived and have elected not to stay in contact with me.”
“Over 90 percent of child migrants here have a family member in the U.S,” Kennedy said. “Despite these numbers, less than a third mention family reunification as a reason for emigrating. More often than not, their neighborhood has become so dangerous or they have been so seriously threatened, that to stay is to wait for their own death or great harm to their family. Their neighborhoods are full of gangs. Their schools are full of gangs. They do not want to join for moral and political reasons and thus see no future.”
“In only one of 400-plus interviews did a child migrant ask about the DREAM Act and immigration reform. … Fifteen had heard that the U.S. system treated children differently than adults and wanted to know how. In all 15 cases, the child had received a threat to join the gang or be killed, and some had then been beat or raped when they refused to join.”
Given the humanitarian aspect to the crisis, Republicans run a risk if they overly politicize the situation, said Louis DeSipio, a professor of political science and Chicano/Latino studies at the University of California-Irvine.
"This really has nothing to do with some long-term plan to create some new form of legal status, but instead it suggests the desperation of parents in Central America," DeSipio said. "The Obama administration also is responding to a bureaucratic problem, which they legitimately have. We don't have the detention space for this many young people, and we didn't really expect them to all appear at the same time."
In early June, Vox's Dara Lind explained the factors pulling the children to the border in Thousands of children are fleeing Central America to Texas — alone:
So why is this happening? Immigration experts tend to point to possible "push factors" — reasons for migrants to leave their home countries — and "pull factors," or reasons for migrants to come to (in this case) the United States:
1) Children are being "pushed" by violence in Central America. Megan McKenna of Kids in Need of Defense, a group that works with unaccompanied migrant children, says that the children her group works with point to violence in their home countries as the primary reason they left. "They're telling us stories of gangs and criminal elements coming into their communities and forcing them to join a gang or some kind of criminal activity, and when they say no, they and their family members are subject to threats and violence," she says. "It's a refugee-like situation."
Indeed, the children coming to the United States appear to be increasingly more vulnerable — implying it's just getting less and less possible to stay in their home countries. Over the past few years, the average age of these unaccompanied children has dropped. And a larger proportion are girls — even though, McKenna says, "it's widely known they'll be a victim of sexual abuse" during the journey through Mexico. "It points to the sheer desperation of these kids in trying to leave their home country."
2) Children are being "pulled" by a desire or need to be reunited with family. Another reason so many children are coming to the United States — they have family here. According to a recent Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees survey,over a third of Central American children who had crossed the border alone had one or both parents in the United States. It's typical for migrant families to send children once other relatives have gotten settled in the US, but when their relatives here are unauthorized immigrants, the kids have to come illegally — and dangerously — too.
3) Children are being "pulled" by lenient US policy — particularly a 2008 law by Congress. There are also more controversial theories. This week, for instance, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee released a statement arguing that the Obama administration's overly lenient policies on immigration "have led to a surge of minors arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border."
The evidence doesn't bear this out. For instance, Republicans have pointed to a policy by the Obama administration to defer deportation for certain youths in the United States. Yet that policy wasn't enacted until 2012 — eight months before the current surge of child migrants began in October 2011. (That policy also doesn't apply to new immigrants.)
It is true that the US government treats child migrants who arrive at the border more leniently than adults — but that's the result of a law passed by Congress in 2008, called the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. When children who come unaccompanied aren't getting deported, it might end up inspiring more children to come. But even here, the evidence is ambiguous. One researcher from San Diego State University found that only 15 of the 400 migrants she interviewed even knew that US immigration law treated unaccompanied children differently.
It's not simply cruel of Hagedorn to characterize the crisis as a "flash mob." It's cruelty at the service of bad policy.
The 2009-2010 flap: Mr. Conservative
But Hagedorn has never been one for thoughtful commentary.
We first read Jim Hagedorn's bizarre "Mr. Conservative" blog entries in 2009, material that he soon scrubbed. To get an idea why, check out Heather Carlson's post, POL Democrats say Hagedorn blog entries are offensive:
Democrats are taking aim at a Republican congressional candidate for blog comments they say are offensive toward women and minorities.
Jim Hagedorn, of Blue Earth, Minn., recently removed several posts from his blog, called “Mr. Conservative," before announcing this week that he was running for the 1st District House seat held by two-term Democrat Tim Walz.
Examples of posts include one about the “nomination of White House legal hack Harriet Miers to fill the bra of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor." Another refers to alleged voter fraud in the 2002 South Dakota election involving American Indians. He writes that “many of the votes registered for absentee ballots were found to be chiefs and squaws who returned to the spirit world many moons ago." He goes on to write “Leave it to liberals to ruin John Wayne’s wisdom of the only good Indian being a dead Indian."
Minnesota DFL party chairman Brian Melendez called Hagedorn’s posts “racist" and said they prove he is a right-wing extremist courting Tea Party members.
“If I had racist posts out there, and I was running for office, I would want to hide them, too," Melendez said.
But Hagedorn said he removed the posts prior to 2004 only because they were outdated. He said he was writing the blog as a political satirist and it is not meant to be offensive.
Hagedorn is government relations director for Electromed Inc., based in New Prague, Minn. His father Tom Hagedorn is a former Republican congressman who represented southern Minnesota.
‘I poke fun at everybody’
“I understand that some of the folks on the left aren’t going to like what I write," he said. “I poke fun at everybody, including Republicans."
Another post receiving attention is one about the late Sen. Paul Wellstone’s funeral. He wrote: “About the memorial service. Was it just me or did it not seem as if someone bailed out the union thugs; tree huggers; abortion rights feminists; peaceniks; citizens for gay animal rights; NAMBLA members and the other Marxist sympathizers who protested at last month’s IMF meetings, and transported them to Wellstone’s memorial in a slew of green buses? Talk about lefties all in one convenient location. Hopefully after the ceremony they fumigated the arena." . . .
Judging from the latest article about Hagedorn in the online-only Mankato Times, it looks like Hagedorn has revived the spirit of "Mr. Conservative" to pin the humanitarian crisis occurring on American's southern border on Congressman Walz.
Walz's immigration white paper in 2008
Update: Hagedorn did not contact us with the requested documentation, but posted it to his Facebook page
Here's the video--and Hagedorn is right about the attack on Gutknecht's vote.
The attack on the vote appears to have been a standard barb by Democratic candidates in the 2006 campaign. Some Republicans fought back, as in the case of Representative Charles Taylor of North Carolina, although he incorrectly claimed that the omnibus bill didn't contain the refugee amnesty provision.
The Blue Ridge Now/Times-News Online reported in Rep. Taylor calls out Shuler over immigration ads:
Taylor voted for a bill on Oct. 20, 1998 that included the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act - HR 4328, Whalen said. The U.S. Immigration Support lists the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act as one of several laws that have granted amnesty to illegal immigrants.
Numbers USA, a conservative immigration reform group, states on its Web site that "the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act is an amnesty program for Haitians."
It will be interesting to see if Hagedorn campaigns for or against Gutknecht's vote, given its low scoring by NUMBERS USA--or if he thinks attacking Walz on the basis of the ad alone is enough to triumph over endorsed candidate Aaron Miller in the primary. While Hagedorn touts his own campaigning, the MIller Facebook page suggests that Byron Republican's public appearances aren't a lonely enterprise.
Hagedorn also makes claims about Walz's positions on immigration in the 2006 upset victory against Gil Gutknecht. In the Manakto Times article, Hagedorn claims:
“In his first campaign for Congress in 2006, Tim Walz pledged border security and chastised then-Congressman Gil Gutknecht for supporting legislation granting 50,000 Haitians amnesty;
Looking online and in Nexis, Bluestem has been unable to find this particular rebuke of Gutknecht by Walz. Perhaps Hagedorn can provide documentation for it.
We have, however, found Walz's white paper via the Internet Wayback Machine. Some of the goals have been achieved; as the Cato article points out, ", the number of Border Patrol agents on the southwest border has never been greater." Other goals are still pending.
As the criticism of Gutknecht (who brought Iowa xenophobe, Rep. Steve King, into the district to discuss immigration in the term before the Minnesota Republican's defeat), here's what's in Walz's 2006 white paper:
Southern Minnesota’s Representative Gil Gutknecht supports immigration legislation that is not only simplistic and purposely divisive, it also fails to solve our immigration problems. Gutknecht supports HR 698, which would repeal the principle of birthright citizenship that benefited many of our ancestors. Gutknecht is also co-sponsoring the Border Protection Corps Act (HR 3622,) which would authorize governors to draft citizens to patrol national borders. These extremist proposals complement the House legislation that criminalizes acts of kindness (HR 4437,) which Gutknecht also cosponsored.
These extreme proposals have been rejected by border-state Republicans such as John McCain, George Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger. . . .
The proposals of several right-wing lawmakers expand the definition of “smuggling” immigrants, putting churches, non-profits and hospitals in a position where acting as a good Samaritan would mean breaking the law. Some Republican Senators have proposed amendments to immigration bills that would require anyone planning to provide meals, clothing or other charitable assistance to undocumented immigrants to register with the Department of Homeland Security. Anyone else attempting to offer services to illegal aliens could be arrested. These proposals are a slap in the face to religious communities who live by the principle of social justice
Perhaps Hagedorn should keep dithering about policy. His supporters cite Aaron Miller's "evolution" gaffe as a reason for Hagedorn to return to the race, but Hagedorn's piled treasures in heaven for Democratic researchers of his own rhetoric.
Photo: The CD1 clown car.
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