Things are just getting under way here in Room 2141 of the Rayburn House Office Building for the House Judiciary Committe's 287(g) hearings. There's a packed house, with plenty of representation from Arizona, including Mesa Police Chief George Gascon, civil rights activist Salvador Reza, and lawyer/activist Antonio Bustamante.
California Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, who is chairing the hearing, has just made her opening remarks.
"It's important as we try to enforce the law, that we follow the law," said Lofgren. "And that's what this hearing is all about."
Already there's a controversy with one of the Republicans' witnesses: Kris Kobach, a law professor at the University of Missouri, whom the Southern Poverty Law Center has alleged has ties to white supremacists. The SPLC has written a letter to Chairman Conyers objecting to Kobach being invited to speak at the hearing.
New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler made his remarks after Lofgren's and those of a member of the Republican minority. Nadler suggested that an unnamed law enforcement entity (hint, hint) might have to have its 287(g) status yanked. He mentioned this agency's "retaliation against reporters," and stated that it should not be "open season on someone who looks foreign to someone else."
Ranking Congressman Lamar Smith from Texas, has just gone through a list of cases where people were killed or raped by illegal aliens.
Congressman John Conyers, chairman of the whole House Judiciary Committee (who is not chairing this particularly hearing), just addressed the hearing with his opening remarks.
"Immigrant bashing is a pretty popular sport, unfornutately, in some areas," he noted. Conyers suggested that brown is the new black, as far as racial profiling goes.
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House members have just been called to the floor for votes. After introducing all of the witnesses, the committe adjourned until 11:45 EST.
I'm going to try to catch a few of the witnesses before they make their way to the cafeteria for lunch. For those in Phoenix and elsewhere, check back to this blog in about an hour.
(Phoenix New Times' special reports section on Joe Arpaio has all the background on Maricopa County's sheriff.)