The Weekly Issue/El Semanario Advisory Board
William Shakespeare’s historical drama Julius Caesar portrays the political machinations between Roman emperor Julius Caesar and Marcus Brutus, who feigns friendship and allegiance to Caesar. However, fearing Caesar’s further rise, Brutus becomes the prototypical traitor and plots to kill Caesar, with various accomplices. Eventually the conniving cohorts turn upon Caesar and begin to stab him. Upon seeing that Brutus, his presumed friend, will join in and thrust his knife, Caesar proclaims, “Et tu, Brute? Then fall, Caesar.” He dies, and Brutus’ fate is likewise sealed, including perpetually to be labeled as a turncoat.
Et tu, Hickenlooper? Today, far removed in time and space from that Rome, we must ask that question in Colorado of our junior Senator, John Hickenlooper. We knew who our enemies were; we thought we knew who our friends were. However, recently elected Senator Hickenlooper took the easy way out in his recent vote regarding Covid-19 pandemic economic relief funds. As reported in The Denver Post, Senator Hickenlooper voted in favor of a Republican amendment to President Biden’s economic relief package (February 5, 2021). In the larger package, Biden is proposing a relief payment of $1,400 per person, with parameters. The amendment, by Republican Senators Cotton of Arkansas and Young of Indiana, prohibits undocumented immigrants from receiving stimulus relief payments. This is essentially a moot point because undocumented immigrants are not able to receive Social Security numbers, the mechanism by which such relief payments are distributed. Apparently, Senator Hickenlooper voted in favor of a Republican amendment over an issue that President Biden’s proposal had not even proposed.
Et tu, Hickenlooper? Today, far removed in time and space from that Rome, we must ask that question in Colorado of our junior Senator, John Hickenlooper. We knew who our enemies were; we thought we knew who our friends were.
This amendment, as negative toward working undocumented immigrants as possible, has an even deeper, insidious corollary. Politico published an analysis article about this issue entitled, “Democrats split as progressives rage over immigration vote” (February 8, 2021). It states, “Eight Senate Democrats [including Hickenlooper] supported an amendment to the Senate’s budget during last week’s marathon vote-a-rama that would prohibit undocumented immigrants from receiving checks…. Some Democrats and activists worry that amendment could block children and [U.S. citizen] spouses of undocumented immigrants from receiving checks, leading 42 Democrats to oppose the effort,” but not Hickenlooper. Further, “Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) … worries that approval of that amendment in the final bill could stop checks from going to spouses or children of undocumented immigrants currently in line to receive them” if they are citizens of the U.S. or otherwise legally eligible to receive such funds.
We, The Weekly Issue/El Semanario Advisory Board supported then-former Governor John Hickenlooper in his 2020 campaign to unseat former Senator Cory Gardner. We were pleased when Hickenlooper defeated Gardner, and we do not regret our support. In the September 10, 2020 issue, we campaigned resolutely against Gardner because of his failure to oppose Trump’s assault against our children when he and his administration separated these young children from their parents and threw them into cages on the border. We stated in that article: “President Trump’s administration, with Senator Cory Gardner in tow, engaged in such child separation and incarceration as a matter of course, a punishment perhaps befitting hardened convicted violent felons, but not innocent small children, incapable of committing any crime according to the U.S. legal system.”
In a following article in The Weekly Issue/El Semanario, October 8, 2020, we vehemently opposed Gardner because of his tacit approval of Trump’s effort to overturn DACA/Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The “deferred action” protected DACA recipients from peremptory deportation; the “childhood arrivals” refers to their average age of six (6) years old when they were brought to the U.S.
When he was Governor, John Hickenlooper by executive action sought to protect immigrant children from being placed in cages (see June 18, 2018, “B 2018 008 Executive Order” forbidding “Using State Resources to Separate Children from Their Parents or Legal Guardians on the Sole Ground of Immigration Status.”) In addition, following its approval in the State Legislature, Hickenlooper signed the 2013 ASSET Bill which provides in-state tuition for DACA and other DREAMER students.
But what now for Senator Hickenlooper? As the Politico article stated, “Republicans are eager to drive a wedge between Democrats by picking them off to support their proposals. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pointed out on Monday with some satisfaction that ‘over some Democrats’ objections, the Senate said illegal immigrants should not receive stimulus checks.’” The best that can be said about Senator Hickenlooper is, he was “picked off” by Republicans and joined the conspirators, with an Et tu, Brute? against the immigrants, including potentially their U.S. citizen children and spouses.
A go-to argument by Republicans against immigrants receiving such stimulus funds is that they “do not pay taxes,” as the Republican mantra argues—this from the party whose president, Donald Trump, a reputed billionaire, in a recent tax year paid $750 dollars in Federal income taxes. In fact, immigrants, including undocumented, pay numerous taxes, through a variety of ways. Every time in Colorado they buy something in a store (except, perhaps, primary foods) they pay sales taxes. Every time they buy gas, they pay taxes. If they buy a home, they pay property taxes, and if they rent, their rent money pays the property taxes for the homeowner.
And in many cases, they pay payroll taxes, including through an ITIN number (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) with which they can “legally file tax returns and claim the income reported on their W-2s to the IRS.” Those with work visas and H1-B status, DACA recipients, and Temporary Protected Status recipients may also be eligible to file tax forms. (See the Bipartisan Policy Center’s “How do Undocumented Immigrants Pay Federal Taxes? An Explainer” document, March 28, 2018). However, as this article states, “Undocumented immigrants also help make the Social Security system more solvent, as they pay into the system but are ineligible to collect benefits upon retiring. In 2010, $12 billion more was collected from Social Security payroll taxes of undocumented workers than were paid out in benefits.”
What now, Senator Hickenlooper? We realize he has entered the Senate at a time of extreme turmoil, with Trump’s defeat sprouting the ill effects of Jim Crow commandments like a Hydra headed serpent of Greek myth—if one head is cut off, two more grow in its place. With Trump exiting stage left, up sprang U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene from Georgia, hissing conspiracy theories, denying the veracity of violence too horrific to recount here in print, and indicating she “liked” a Facebook comment calling for violence against the House Speaker. (see Marjorie Taylor Greene indicated support for executing prominent Democrats in 2018 and 2019 before running for Congress – CNNPolitics). Her henchman, U.S. Representative Kevin McCarthy from California, also sprouted forth with her, leading the 199 House Republicans who voted to not strip Greene from her committee assignments, which included the Education Committee. Fortunately, Democrats and 11 Republicans voted to remove her, as transpired.
While this played out in the House, and not the Senate, where Hickenlooper resides, the Hydra-headed monster extends into the Senate. We must await to see how now-Senator Hickenlooper responds, to fight the dragon, not his friends.
Members of The Weekly Issue/El Semanario Advisory Board: Ramón Del Castillo, Ph.D.; Ray Ayón, retired Denver Police Detective; Steve Del Castillo, Ph.D.; and Luis Torres, Ph.D.
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