Congress after congress, president after president, and year after year, the immigration status quo has continued to persist, and a broken, inhuman and often irrational immigration system has been allowed to fester. And every time an opponent of immigration reform engages in a campaign of fear and misinformation, that's just another win for the dangerous status quo.
We at Immigrants' List -- a bipartisan political action committee dedicated to electing lawmakers who are pro-immigration -- decided to shine a light on those individuals who have presented the greatest obstacles to repairing our country's immigration system. We unveiled this week our Hall of Shame, ten of the biggest obstructionists to immigration reform who are running or have run for office this year.
Regrettably, this past year has given us plenty of people to consider: Here's the list:
1 - Former State Assemblywoman Sharron Angle (R-NV)
Former State Assemblywoman and current Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle has been criticized for her extremist views, including her views on immigration. The Minutemen-endorsed candidate has advocated the use of a voter-id program to "safeguard the election process" and opposed a scholarship program because it gave tuition money to legal residents who were not citizens.
2 - Former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO)
Former Rep. Tancredo is perhaps the founder of the anti-reform world and one of its most vociferious spokespeople for years now. Tancredo is also a leading voice of the nativist view that all immigrants must be culturally assimilated.
3 - Former Rep. JD Hayworth (R-AZ)
Former Ariz. Rep. and senate candidate Hayworth has always had a stern anti-reform reputation, going back to his effort to kill the Kennedy-McCain reform package in 2006. But Hayworth also has offered an odd approach to fixing the immigration system: banning legal immigration from Mexico.
4 - Governor Jan Brewer (R-AZ)
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is responsible for a law that is nothing short of a state takeover of a federal power. While debate over SB 1070 could have been a catalyst for a much-needed national conversation about immigration reform, Brewer used the bill to inspire fear.
5 - Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Senator Grassley has been at the forefront of the paranoia campaign against immigration reform for years. Most recently, and what puts him at the top of the list is his spreading the notion of an Obama back-door amnesty plan.
6 - Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX)
In 1995, Rep. Smith penned an op-ed calling for amending the 14th Amendment to address birthright citizenship. For the entirety of his career, he has used the immigration issue as a scare tactic for political gain. This year, Smith used an anti-immigration message to undercut support for President Obama's healthcare reform plan.
7 - Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA)
Rep. Bilbray of California is one of the leading obstructionists of immigration reform. Besides heading the House of Representative's leading anti-reform caucus, Bilbray was a key advocate of SB 1070. Recently, Bilbray has been rumor-mongering that President Obama plans to grant amnesty to undocumented residents by presidential order--which the Department of Homeland Security dismissed.
8 - Rep. Gene Taylor (D-MS)
Rep. Taylor's roots with the anti-reform movement run very deep. He has endorsed legislation to address birthright citizenship, has been endorsed by a leading anti-reform group Americans for Legal Immigration and has the highest score of any Democrat by the anti-reform group NumbersUSA.
9 - Rep. Steve King (R-IA)
Rep. King of Iowa has always erected obstacles in the path of fixing our immigration system. King called the 2007 Kennedy-Kyl reform effort a "hand grenade" and a "sham." Most recently, he was an avid supporter of SB 1070, and cited The Bible in arguing that God was against immigration reform.
10 - Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC)
Rep. Foxx of North Carolina has consistently engaged in the type of fear and misinformation campaign that undermines public support for immigration reform. Foxx has likened legal immigration to an "invasion," and supports the use of dragnets to round up undocumented residents.