This is a fun read which starts with words like squish and portly, with insight into Asian family dynamics. Tea party blowback was liable to happen sooner or later. And once the tea party wing nuts get wound up it’s hard to get them under control. From the Texas Observer, In Salado, the Tea Party Contemplates the Nation’s Future — and Rep. John Carter’s Not in It.
John Carter’s no squish. The portly 72-year old congressman cuts a figure straight out of Republican central casting. The first Republican elected in Williamson County since Reconstruction, Carter’s been slowly entrenching himself in the GOP establishment for three decades. Last year, the National Journal rated Carter the 11th most conservative member of the House.
But since Carter started indicating an openness to work on some kind of immigration legislation, he’s been getting pushback from his district. Pushback might be too gentle a term for what happened at a town hall meeting last night in Salado. Organized by the Central Texas & Williamson County tea parties, it was one of the congressman’s only publicized town halls of the August recess.Carter ate dinner with more than a hundred tea partiers, and sat with them to watch the quasi-documentary They Come to America II: The Cost of Amnesty.
But during the public town hall that followed, Carter faced a barrage of criticism for his willingness to consider immigration legislation.
In a microcosm of a political dynamic across the country, the conservative grassroots of his district don’t just oppose moving forward with immigration reform: They want the country to move fast in the opposite direction. The end of birthright citizenship. Mass deportations. More walls. Time and again, Carter told the room that he couldn’t get them what they wanted.
“This is a human issue, it involves human beings,” he said in his opening remarks. “It’s an economic issue, and it involves the economy of the United States. And it’s a legal issue.”
Carter presented the tenets of his own plan, which gives undocumented migrants a limited pathway to legalization in return for strengthened border security.
“You want a post hole dug? I can almost guarantee you won’t find anybody to do that job” who is legal, he said. Carter also emphasized that his plan would limit the pathways that legal migrants can use to bring family members to the U.S.
And that’s when things started to go off the rails. Audience members objected to the fact that Carter’s plan would continue to allow the parents of adult migrants here legally to obtain legal status themselves.
“The only reason we have mothers and fathers [in his plan] is because of Asians,” Carter said, to more shouts. “Asians have this mother and father thing.”
Carter deferred on birthright citizenship, saying that he only way to change the policy would be to amend the Constitution. That brought shouts from around the room — including, notably, Lynn Woolley, a local conservative radio host.
“That amendment was meant to prevent the Southern states from denying citizenship to former slaves,” Woolley shouted, to raucous applause. “That’s what it was! We need better judges. I’ve read what the framers wanted that amendment to be!”
Carter accused Woolley of demagoguing, and offered to debate Woolley on his radio show, but otherwise left the issue alone — which left Woolley miffed when he took to the airwaves today.
“Look, I like Congressman Carter a lot,” he said Wednesday morning. “I don’t like having a fallout with someone over one issue. But it’s an awfully big issue.”
The rest of the town hall question session found Carter on the defensive. A mustachioed rancher compared the U.S. to the Titanic, and said letting more people “who are feeding off our welfare system” gain legal status would sink the boat. A woman from Belton charged ICE with technological negligence.
“We can track a cow from birth to slaughter,” he said. “Why can’t we track someone who’s overstayed their visa?”
Another man seized on the consensus of the crowd: citizenship is the problem, not the solution.
There’s much more, so go read it all. Carter, bless his heart, has tried as best he can to be rational on the immigration debate. But, as the article highlights, the base of the GOP is irrational on this issue. But the picture with the article is worth a thousand words.