Friday, June 30, 2006

Sensenbrenner ducks Latino event

Rep. F. Jim Sensenbrenner has found some convenient scheduling conflicts that keep him from telling a national Latino group, meeting in his backyard, about his get-tough immigration plans. AP reports:
MILWAUKEE - The nation's oldest Hispanic rights group scheduled numerous speakers - both Democrats and Republicans - for its annual convention, but one sought-after name is missing from the agenda.

The League of United Latin American Citizens says it wants to hear from U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner on why he proposed a bill that would make it a felony to be in the U.S. illegally and, among other things, build a 700-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Sensenbrenner, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has not accepted any of its invitations, says the group, which this week is holding its annual convention in Milwaukee, the Republican's backyard.

More than 10,000 people are expected at the convention, which began Monday and wraps up Saturday. The week's programs include sessions on immigration, Hispanics and business, and health care.

Speakers include House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Ken Mehlman, chairman of the Republican National Committee and Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Sensenbrenner told representatives of the group that he has votes scheduled in Washington through Friday and constituent business on Saturday, said Jeff Lungren, a spokesman for Sensenbrenner and the House Judiciary Committee.

"Therefore, when deciding between serving the constituents that elected him or giving a speech to a special interest group, Congressman Sensenbrenner will choose his constituents every time," Lungren said.

LULAC has been using the proximity of its convention to the home district of Sensenbrenner, nearby Menomonee Falls, to call attention to his proposals. On Sunday night, about five members of the group, including the executive director, attended a town hall meeting held by Sensenbrenner in the Milwaukee suburb of Thiensville, said Gabriela Lemus, director of policy and legislation for LULAC.

She said Sensenbrenner, like several other lawmakers associated with the measure, changed topics when asked by LULAC members about his immigration proposals.

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