Lamar Smith: Immigration's taskmaster
Today he chairs the House Judiciary Committee, which has custody of the immigration issue. When he was first elected, his Texas district - then 42,000 square miles, five times larger than Massachusetts - included 400 miles of the border with Mexico. His district has meandered north and now is 150 miles from the border. It includes portions of San Antonio and Austin. But Smith still looks south, toward the flow of illegal immigration, which he considers a uniquely comprehensive problem, affecting schools, health care, employment and the culture.
Some people say such policies will put Hispanic votes beyond the reach of Republicans. Smith serenely disagrees.
He believes, on the basis of quotes he is pleased to share, that many on the left see amnesty for illegal immigrants as a way to build a permanent Democratic majority. He, however, is confident that Republicans can compete for Hispanic votes while - indeed, by - insisting that everyone "play by the rules."