How many different ways can the immigration debate backfire on Democrats? Harry Reid may have invented a new way to shoot himself in the foot. When confronted by the CBS affiliate in Las Vegas over Reid’s block of a vote to require e-Verify for construction workers, Reid offered the standard platitude that immigration enforcement can’t be done “piecemeal” but has to wait for an overhaul of laws to replace the laws that the federal government doesn’t feel like enforcing. When pressed on the topic by the reporter, Reid insists that there are no illegal workers in Nevada (via the Boss Emeritus):
The report doesn’t offer the big quote from the interview, however (emphasis mine):
REPORTER: Why didn’t you allow for a vote?
REID: That’s the reason we need to do comprehensive immigration reform. We cannot do it piecemeal.
REPORTER: You go to the unemployment office, though, and there’s many US citizens who are unemployed construction workers and they don’t have specific jobs because, right now, some of those construction companies find it easier to hire undocumented workers.
REID: I think that any information you have in that regard is absolutely without foundation
VOICEOVER: We told Senator Reid of a Pew Hispanic Center study showing 17% of all construction workers are here illegally.
REID: That may be someplace, but it’s not here in Nevada.
VOICEOVER: But their latest 2009 numbers show that Nevada is the state with the highest percentage of unauthorized immigrants in the labor force.
When Barack Obama made immigration a debating priority by targeting the law passed in Arizona, he hoped to split the GOP and pander to Hispanic voters. Instead, he started a national debate on the dereliction of duty by the federal government in enforcing the laws already on the books, and the obstinacy of Democrats to provide more tools to cull illegal immigrants from the workforce. In a year where the civilian participation in the workforce has dropped to a generational low, voters want to know why they should bother backing a reform when the Obama administration and the Democrats in Congress won’t support enforcing what we already have.
Having Harry Reid insist that Nevada doesn’t have illegal immigrants in its workforce is just icing on the cake of cluelessness that Obama baked and delivered. If Reid is this out of touch with the facts on the ground in Nevada, he’s been in Washington far too long — and he can expect that Sharron Angle is already producing a new TV ad to make that same point.