Subcommittee should abandon dog whistle politics

WASHINGTON, D.C. - MALDEF President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz released the following statement in response to today's hearing in the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, which questioned the role of "birthright citizenship," a longstanding emblem of equality and inclusion:

"As the sentiment of the nation has shifted toward more inclusive politics, wedge-issue tactics -- the irresponsible exploitation of demographic fear and racial exclusion to achieve temporary political victories at the cost of bad policy and community division -- have given way to dog-whistle politics, in which reckless leaders demagogue fringe issues to arouse extremists without any intention of making policy at all. Today's House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on birthright citizenship is the latest deplorable example of this tendency. The vast majority of Americans have no interest in changing a longstanding policy that has made our nation the enviable innovator of the world and a leader in most all economic sectors. This hearing is the quintessential right-wing dog whistle.

"The offense of today's hearing is only compounded by the failure to include a single Latino or Latina among the live witnesses. No serious discussion on this or any related issue should occur without hearing from the community whose demographic growth is at the heart of the perceived fears being exploited by Rep. Gowdy and the others behind today's hearing."

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

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