Will Bri­den­s­tine’s suc­ces­sor be bet­ter or worse?

La Semana - - FRONT PAGE / PORTADA -


Even be­fore the long-an­tic­i­pated an­nounce­ment that Ok­la­homa’s First District Con­gress­man Jim Bri­den­s­tine (R-Tulsa) would be leav­ing the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives to be­come the new ad­min­is­tra­tor of NASA, po­lit­i­cal vul­tures from the con­gress­man’s own party had al­ready be­gun cir­cling, ea­ger for a chance to seize the post the ul­tra-con­ser­va­tive Repub­li­can had pre­vi­ously stated he would va­cate at the con­clu­sion of his term in 2018.


Bri­den­s­tine, dur­ing the nearly five years he has spent in of­fice since de­feat­ing John Sul­li­van in a 2012 GOP pri­mary and go­ing on to win the seat in the gen­eral elec­tion that Novem­ber, has been demon­stra­bly hos­tile to com­pre­hen­sive im­mi­gra­tion re­form and other is­sues of con­cern to his own His­panic con­stituents, earn­ing an ig­no­min­ious “A+” rat­ing from the staunchly anti-im­mi­grant group Num­ber­sUSA.

This raises an im­por­tant ques­tion: will the per­son who re­places Bri­den­s­tine be bet­ter or worse for Tulsa area im­mi­grants and their fam­i­lies, and for the lo­cal His­panic com­mu­nity in par­tic­u­lar? This ques­tion is es­pe­cially sig­nif­i­cant given this week’s an­nounce­ment of the end of the DACA pro­gram pro­tect­ing DREAM­ers from the threat of de­por­ta­tion and the pres­i­dent’s throw­ing the ball into the hands of Congress.

So far five can­di­dates have an­nounced they are seek­ing Bri­den­s­tine’s seat next year, and with Don­ald Trump in the White House im­mi­gra­tion is a hot­ter is­sue than per­haps ever be­fore. It is also likely that some of the five or more Re- pub­li­cans hop­ing to go to Wash­ing­ton will fol­low Bri­den­s­tine’s ex­am­ple from 2012 by try­ing to prove they are even far­ther to the right than the in­cum­bent, a trend in mod­ern GOP pol­i­tics.

For­mer Tulsa County District At­tor­ney Tim Har­ris, con­sid­ered to be an early front-run­ner, has al­ready shown he is not a sup­porter of im­mi­gra­tion re­form, stat­ing on his cam­paign web­site, “For too long, Amer­i­cans have been put at risk be­cause the fed­eral gov­ern­ment re­fused to en­force ex­ist­ing im­mi­gra­tion laws.”

Chris­tian mis­sion­ary Andy Cole­man, an­other can­di­date for Bri­den­s­tine’s job, has taken a sim­i­lar po­si­tion, as evinced by his im­mi­gra­tion state­ment on Face­book: “Co­her­ent im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy must be firmly rooted in the rule of law, not a spirit of law­less­ness.”

The seat has been firmly in Repub­li­can hands for 30 years, and so far no Demo­crat has an­nounced they will run, ei­ther in next year’s reg­u­lar gen­eral elec­tion or in a spe­cial elec­tion that would be called should Bri­den­s­tine win con­fir­ma­tion to head up NASA be­fore the end of this year.

One thing is clear: the per­son the vot­ers select will join the leg­isla­tive fray at a time when pol­i­tics seem per­haps more di­vi­sive than ever be­fore. (La Se­m­ana)

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