Immigration Hearing Not a Learning Experience for Congressman

The House Republicans’ summer-long immigration road show continues, with so-called hearings in New Hampshire on Thursday and Illinois next Tuesday. Meanwhile, a hearing planned for upstate New York has been cancelled for unknown reasons. Perhaps even members of the House committees behind the hearings have begun to sense the futility of such political exercises.

At one hearing last week in Georgia, Rep. Charlie Norwood lashed out at a witness from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service who wasn’t making the congressman’s points properly:

“What I wanted was witnesses who agree with me, not disagree with me,” Norwood said after presiding over an immigration hearing Tuesday in Gainesville.

On Wednesday, the Augusta Republican took center stage over two congressional colleagues at a hearing in Dalton, telling a federal bureaucrat with whom he didn’t agree that he would be calling her boss to complain.

Alison Siskin, an immigration specialist with the Congressional Research Service, said studies have been unclear about whether illegal immigrants have had much impact on government health care.

“The studies are all over the place,” she said. “There are not studies that have shown rampant abuse.”

Norwood told Siskin he was “disappointed” in her testimony, and that he planned to complain to her superiors.

“Facts are stubborn things,” said John Adams, and some studies show immigrants use less, not more health care than others. Perhaps Norwood, who said he did not learn anything new from the hearings he held, prefers Ronald Reagan’s version: “Facts are stupid things.”