Independence Day celebrations in Philadelphia offered two very different views on the current debate about pending federal legislation on immigration reform.
Mayor Nutter, speaking at Independence Hall this morning, noted not just the 237th anniversary of the Second Continental Congress adopting the Declaration of Independence but also of the 50th anniversary of the struggle for Civil Rights in Birmingham, Alabama and across the country.
Nutter spoke in support of the U.S. Senate vote last week on immigration reform, offering a "path to citizenship" for people who entered this country illegally while strengthening border security. Framing the issue along the lines of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Nutter said the Declaration of Independence must be reinterpreted at times to fit the times.
"Our makeup is constantly changing as we welcome people who desperately want to be Americans," Nutter said. "And with our changing demographics, Americans must once again reinterpret its core values and principles through a modern lens."
Across the street, the Independence Hall Tea Party Association took a dim view of the legislation. Keynote speaker J..D. Hayworth cited article 4, section 4 of the U.S. Constitution, which says the federal government shall protect each state against invasion.
Hayworth accused elected officials of not enforcing immigration laws for at least the last three decades.
Hayworth, an Arizona congressmen for 12 years before losing re-election in 2006, challenged U.S. Sen. John McCain in the 2010 Republican primary but lost by a wide margin. He is now a sports radio host in San Diego, Calif.
The Tea Party favorite had as many barbs for Republican senators such as McCain, Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan -- along with a shot at Fox News -- on the topic as he did for President Obama, who he called a "committed doctrinaire and a leftist."
He said some Republicans, backed by groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, see immigration reform as a path to "cheap labor" while some Democrats see it as a way to win "cheap votes."
"And you and I and your neighbors, we're the folks who know it ain't cheap," Hayworth said. "It's going to cost us."