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    Senior Member Brian503a's Avatar
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    May 2005
    California or ground zero of the invasion

    `Workhorse' has get-tough stance on immigration ... 4830.story

    `Workhorse' has get-tough stance on immigration
    He's not a typical glad-handing politico, but he may hold the key in negotiations

    By Frank James, Tribune national correspondent. Michael Tackett and Naftali Bendavid of the Washington Bureau contributed to this report

    June 5, 2006

    BROWN DEER, Wis. -- Rep. James Sensenbrenner has been more richly blessed than most.

    The Wisconsin Republican was born into a wealthy family; his great-grandfather was a founder of Kimberly-Clark Corp. "He invented Kotex, by the way," Sensenbrenner says, matter-of-factly.

    As a young congressman, he escaped death by jumping from his blazing home's second floor, which left him burned and with a bad back, but alive.

    He once won a $250,000 D.C. Lottery prize after buying a ticket during a beer run.

    Then, of course, for nearly six years he's been one of the nation's most important lawmakers as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

    But now it is an open question whether the 62-year-old Sensenbrenner's good fortune will continue with congressional approval of the House-passed, enforcement-only immigration bill he wrote. At the moment, the outlook doesn't appear good.

    The Senate recently approved a far different approach than the House's. The Senate chose to provide illegal immigrants a way to eventually gain legal status and become citizens, a tactic vehemently opposed by Sensenbrenner and the House but one supported by President Bush.

    With the two chambers' bills so philosophically at odds, lawmakers appear headed for a legislative train wreck.

    In any event, Sensenbrenner's get-tough stance has made the low-key lawmaker a bogeyman to illegal immigrants and their allies but a hero to Americans seeking a crackdown on illegal immigration. Enforcing U.S. borders and employment restrictions should come first, he said, before any guest worker program is considered. Also, illegal immigrants should not be granted citizenship, he said.

    More than anyone else, it is Sensenbrenner, the likely chairman of the House-Senate negotiation over the legislation, who will hold the key to whether a compromise is reached and an immigration bill eventually arrives on Bush's desk.

    The noisy debate Sensenbrenner helped trigger is in stark contrast to the lawmaker's stodgy Midwestern manners. But as Sensenbrenner himself puts it, he's not into political theatrics.

    "I'm a workhorse, I'm not a show horse," Sensenbrenner said in an interview in his suburban Milwaukee district during Congress' Memorial Day recess.

    "The time you spend in hearings that don't result in legislation is time away from meetings that do result in legislation," Sensenbrenner said. "My bottom line is to try to get as many important issues actually through and signed into law."

    Trusted chairman

    Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.) said of Sensenbrenner: "He's honest, forthright and never done anything to mislead me. . . . We're really going to miss him when he leaves as chairman of the Judiciary Committee."

    Under House rules, Sensenbrenner's chairmanship term ends when Congress' next session starts in January.

    A careful man, Sensenbrenner says he tries to live what he preaches, even as it relates to immigration. Asked how he avoids doing business with possibly illegal immigrant workers when, say, he goes to get his car cleaned, he said he uses an automatic car wash.

    He asks contractors he hires about their legal status and that of their workers. His housekeeper in Washington is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Nicaragua.

    He's known to be as tightfisted with taxpayers' money as with his own. He occasionally has voted against spending that would have helped people in his district or in Wisconsin.

    When he believes he's right on principle, he's not prone to compromise, observers say. "Wisconsin is between 3 and 4 percent Hispanic," said Jerry Podair, a history professor at Lawrence University in Appleton. "Sensenbrenner's district, the most Republican in the state, is even less so. So for Sensenbrenner, this is more an issue of principle than anything else."

    David Canon, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, said, "The other time he was in the spotlight was during the impeachment process of President Clinton," as one of the House managers. "Again, he stuck to what he saw as the correct position. If you agree with him, you think he is sticking to principle. If you disagree, you think it is bullheaded stubbornness."

    The same immovability he has shown on immigration was visible in the anti-Justice Department stance he took over the FBI's recent search of the Capitol Hill office of Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) in a bribery probe.

    During a town hall meeting at a public library in Brown Deer, a Milwaukee suburb, after a voter expressed outrage at the search and asked, "Don't they have any brains at the Justice Department?" Sensenbrenner responded, "I think we know the answer to that question."

    Sensenbrenner is variously described as shy, prickly, a micro-manager and not always collegial. In a Congress filled with backslappers, he is decidedly not one of them.

    The town hall meeting demonstrated Sensenbrenner's dedication to his job but also his lack of the glad-handing gene possessed by most politicians.

    He arrived at least 20 minutes early for the 7 p.m. meeting in his dusty champagne-colored 1994 Cadillac DeVille, before all of the 20 or so constituents who showed up. He said he averages 120 such meetings a year, which he believes is "more than any other member of Congress."

    This night, those who came were mostly retirees, along with a Boy Scout troop of 10- and 11-year-olds. Many politicians would have tried to connect with the kids, offering autographs, souvenir pens, words of encouragement. Not Sensenbrenner. When the Scouts asked questions, he answered in the same dutiful monotone he used with the adults.

    But his personality doesn't matter much to the voters of Wisconsin's 5th Congressional District who have elected him to 14 terms.

    "I admire him greatly," said Frank Doster, a retired engineer and lawyer who attended the library session. "I see him a little differently than I see most politicians. . . . I'm convinced that he is a man with integrity."

    Most difficult issue

    Among the many issues Sensenbrenner's committee has faced over the years, he said that immigration is "the most difficult one of them all."

    "The backlash that was caused by the [immigration] demonstrations in April have made people on both sides more polarized, thus making it much more difficult to compromise between the position of the Senate and the position of the House," he said.

    Sensenbrenner can grow righteous when he talks about illegal immigration. At the town hall meeting he even likened it to American slavery.

    Of the employers who often exploit illegal immigrants because such workers can't go to the authorities, Sensenbrenner said: "The people who hire large numbers of illegal immigrants are 21st Century slavemasters. And what they're doing is just as wrong and just as immoral as the 19th Century slavemasters that we had to fight a Civil War to get rid of."

    Sensenbrenner's opponents aren't impressed.

    "He has been ranting and raving and saying, `Over my dead body. We will never have a guest worker program,'" said Jeanne Butterfield, executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She was exaggerating for effect--Sensenbrenner definitely does not rant or rave.

    "What I don't understand is why he wields so much power," she said. "If a committee chairman is steering a major piece of legislation in the wrong direction, and party leaders and the Bush White House and others in the Republican Party and certainly Republicans in the Senate disagree with him, the fact of his chairmanship should not be allowed to steer the debate."

    But Sensenbrenner is steering the debate. "I believe that I'm exercising leadership in bringing an issue that should have been addressed a long time ago to the fore of a national debate," he said.

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  2. #2

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    Jan 1970



    We must take a stand and enforce the rights of the People to have a representative government. When elected officials take it upon themselves to go against the People because they feel they have the power to, then the People must stand up with one voice and demand their removal. Every single Senator that voted in favor of the Senate bill on immigration reform must be removed from office. This is mandated by the basic concepts of representative government and our system of checks and balances. The People need to send a loud and undeniably clear message that the promotion of any idea that is contrary to the will of the People will not be tolerated! George Bush must be impeached. Send the message that a President must support the will of the People at all costs. If your Senators voted for the immigration reform bill then impeach them. We must return to a government that is representative of the People. The People are the United States of America and to be against the People is to be against Our nation. For any American to operate in support of an invading force of foreign nationals who have already infiltrated our country at a time when we are at war is traitorous. Impeach the traitors. Protect the sanctity of our nation. Ensure the safety and happiness of Our citizens.


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