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Although the House did succeed in passing two key immigration enforcement bills last month — Kate’s Law and the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act — the bills appear unlikely to garner the 60 votes needed in the Senate to reach the president’s desk. But Republicans seem largely to have shied away from championing the merits of these bills and pressuring Democrats to support them.

“And you would think that this would be an opportunity for the Republican leadership to put [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer and the Democratic leadership on the defensive,” Mehlman said. “‘You justify to the American people why you would rather see criminal aliens turned back out onto the streets than have the safety of your community protected. Either they just don’t grasp it themselves, or they would just prefer not to deal with this because they’re getting pressure from some of their business constituency to maintain the status quo.”

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It isn’t the first time Serrano has courted controversy with radical comments.

After the death of authoritarian Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2013, Serrano caused an uproar when he tweeted that Chavez “was a leader that understood the needs of the poor. He was committed to empowering the powerless. R.I.P. Mr. President.”

[lz_third_party includes=”https://twitter.com/RepJoseSerrano/status/309068896734961665″]

Serrano also released a statement honoring Chavez, saying, “I met President Chavez in 2005 when he came to my district at my invitation.”

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“His focus on the issues faced by the poor and disenfranchised in his country made him a truly revolutionary leader in the history of Latin America,” Serrano continued. “He understood that after 400 years on the outside of the established power structure looking in, it was time that the poor had a chance at seeing their problems and issues addressed. His core belief was in the dignity and common humanity of all people in Venezuela and in the world.”

Serrano’s eulogy drew ire across the political spectrum. Alexandra Franceschi, then a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, called the New York congressman out for his high praise of Chavez.

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“It’s simply insulting that a Democrat Congressman would praise the authoritarian ruler Hugo Chavez,” Franceschi said in a statement. “Chavez systematically cracked down on the basic freedom and liberties of Venezuelans, nationalized private industries, and befriended anti-American dictators like Castro, Ahmadinejad, and Assad. Americans should stand together with the freedom-loving people of Venezuela as they hope for a peaceful transition to a democracy, instead of praising the former dictator.”[lz_pagination]