Yesterday, May 20, 2010, Mexican President Felipe Calderon spoke before a joint session of Congress. An invited guest of our government, Calderon proceeded to be so rude as to openly criticize a constituent state of the United States of America — the state of Arizona. More than criticize, Calderon demonized Arizona by deliberately misportraying the state’s new immigration law, SB 1070, as engaging in “racial profiling.”
Simply put, that is a lie. Arizona’s SB 1070 does no such thing. The plain truth is that SB 1070 explicitly and specifically rejects racial profiling. It states that police, “may not solely consider race, color or national origin” when implementing SB 1070.
To add insult upon injury to the American people, the assembled Democrats leapt to their feet and gave Calderon a thunderous standing ovation. [See my post of yesterday HERE.]
Some of the regulars of this blog have questioned why the Republican members of Congress did not walk out in protest. I happened on this article by David Lightman in the Sacramento Bee, May 21, 2010, which explains why: Many Republicans had boycotted Calderon’s speech and were not at the joint session. Of course, that still doesn’t explain why those GOPers who were there had not walked out in protest.
Here’s Lightman’s account:
Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s appearance Thursday before a joint session of Congress dramatically illustrated – and possibly reinforced – the partisan divide that’s stymied progress on immigration legislation.
In his 40-minute address, Calderón sharply criticized Arizona’s tough new immigration law and the United States’ refusal to ban assault weapons, which are being used in the violent drug-gang shootouts in Mexico.
Afterward, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Calderón “crossed a line” by urging changes in gun policy, and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who’s become a hard-liner on curbing illegal immigration, declared, “I’ve never heard of another country’s president coming here and criticizing the United States like that.”
Democrats were more supportive. “I don’t know what the protocol is, but I don’t think he crossed any line,” said Rep. Ed Pastor, D-Ariz.
A Democratic plan, unveiled April 29, would create a path to citizenship for most of the estimated 10.8 million people who are in this country illegally now and would provide stronger security along the U.S.-Mexican border. The security features are aimed at wooing Republicans, who have said that security is their top priority.
However, with congressional elections less than six months away, there has been no movement toward compromise, and the bill is expected to get little traction in the current Congress. Instead, it has become one of the most divisive, most partisan issues lawmakers confront, and Calderón’s visit to Washington, which included talks Wednesday with President Barack Obama, has done little, if anything, to close the gap. “There’s such a wide divide, I’m not sure anything in his visit did anything to close the divide,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. “It doesn’t help,” added Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
The schism was apparent Thursday, as so few Republicans showed up for Calderón’s address that four of the seven-plus Republican rows in front of Calderón, about 40 seats, were filled largely by student pages.