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Doing The Lord's Work On Immigration

Watching this issue take the spotlight is like watching someone take the lid off a pot of water that's been boiling for hours: steam is rising everywhere. Jonathan Weisman and Jim VandeHei take the 2008 angle in the Washington Post this morning, and Elisabeth Bumiller looks at the issue from the view of President Bush in the New York Times.

The best immigration story of the day, however, is by Peter Clark in Newsday who reports on Rep. Peter King's (one of the co-sponsors of the immigration bill passed by the House) response to critics - including Hillary Clinton - who suggest that some of the enforcement measures in the immigration bill are too draconian and don't comport with Scripture:

Peter King, the recreational boxer with a combative record during nearly 14 years in the House, is now taking on the Roman Catholic Church.

King is co-sponsor of a bill that would strengthen the nation's borders and make it a felony to knowingly aid illegal immigrants, a measure that has outraged Catholic activists who work with them.

King (R-Seaford) has no patience for the mounting criticism of him and his bill, even from his own church's leaders.

"Stopping alien smuggling gangs is doing God's work," King said in an interview Thursday. "These people who are supposed to be speaking for God, saying this [the bill] is a sin, and they should go to confession, he added.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) added to the religious nature of the debate Wednesday at a news conference when she claimed that a Republican-supported immigration proposal would judge "Jesus himself" as a criminal.

King was as outspokenly critical of Catholic leaders Wednesday as he was Thursday.

He said Catholic leaders opposed to the bill are politically correct liberals who "should spend more time protecting little boys from pedophile priests."

Needless to say, that last remark didn't go over well with some members of the clergy. What's interesting about this aspect of the immigration debate is that once again Democrats are trying to recast their policies in a religious context - something they've been trying to do for some time with issues like poverty and education - to help try and bridge the cultural gap that has made it exceedingly difficult for them in red states. Up until now, this effort has been a failure characterized by embarrassing displays of false piety and by folks like Howard Dean and John Kerry. My impression is this latest effort on immigration won't yield much better results.