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The United States may be a melting pot, but few things divide people faster than the topic of illegal immigration. Michael J. Gardiner, one of three Republicans hoping to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. James Langevin in the 2nd District, devotes a lot of space to the issue on a web page called Illegal Immigration: Costly and Unfair to Citizens, Tax payers, and Legal Residents.
In the section on "Common sense measures to control illegal immigration and its costs," he has this paragraph under the category "physical obstacles":
"James R. Langevin is opposed to fences where they could work, because he is afraid that someone will get hurt trying to go around the fence. Thus he would deprive us of the abiliity <sic> to manage immigration in an orderly way. This is not leadership. It is powerlessness and a misplaced sense of responsibility. Our Government must not be disabled frm <sic> doing its job."
So Langevin doesn't want a secure border because he's afraid someone might get hurt trying to circumvent it?
We called Gardiner at his law office and asked for the source of that assertion. He sent us to a website called OnTheIssues.org, which tracks voting records on a variety of issues, and a web page called "James Langevin on Immigration."
"Voted NO on building a fence along the Mexican border" is the headline for the top item of the page, a reference to House Resolution 6061, which was passed by the House on Sept. 14, 2006 and ultimately became law. It called for at least two layers of reinforced fencing along portions of the U.S.-Mexican border.
Langevin, we confirmed, voted against it.
But nowhere on the website does it actually say, as Gardiner does, that Langevin opposed the measure because he thought the fence might cause someone to get hurt.
In fact, the web page Gardiner cites lists other reasons opponents were against the 700-mile fence, such as the fact that the resolution had no funding for a barrier expected to cost at least $7 billion, no money to maintain it, and ignores real enforcement measures such as hiring more border patrol personnel.
We found other arguments against the resolution, any of which might have been Langevin's motivation to vote no.
Even when OnTheIssues.org described safety concerns, it was a lot less cavalier about the argument than Gardiner. It said opponents supported voting no because "Walls, barriers, and military patrols will only force those immigrants to utilize ever more dangerous routes and increase the number of people who die in search of an opportunity to feed and clothe their families."
Gardiner said he wrote his position paper before he realized that the arguments listed on OnTheIssues.org were not attributed to Langevin, or anyone else in particular.
"I suppose I missed that the first time, in my enthusiasm to research his record," the candidate said. "I can't say what he specifically said, to be fair."
In his enthusiasm, Gardiner made assumptions that have no basis. So regardless of the real reason for Langevin's vote, the Truth-O-Meter says Gardiner deserves a Pants on Fire .
For the record, we asked Langevin’s office why the Congressman voted against the legislation. Spokeswoman Joy Fox responded with an email saying that Langevin is not convinced that the border fence is an answer to the problem of border security.
"He had serious concerns that the costs of the bill would not result in significant improvements to our border security. And these concerns, unfortunately, have been borne out. The border fence initiative has been beset by ineffective management, cost overruns and missed deadlines," Fox said.
Gardiner For Congress website, Illegal Immigration: Costly and Unfair to Citizens, Tax payers, and Legal Residents, accessed June 22, 2010
Interview, Michael J. Gardiner, June 22, 2010
OnTheIssues.org, James Langevin on Immigration, accessed June 22, 2010
WashingtonPost.com, The U.S. Congress Votes Database / 109th Congress / House / 2nd session / Vote 446, accessed June 23, 2010
House.gov, Final vote results for Roll Call 446, accessed June 23, 2010
Email, Joy Fox, spokeswoman for James Langevin, June 23, 2010
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