This week, lawmakers went home to their districts for Congressional recess or “constituent work week.” Many NumbersUSA activists hit the road to attend town hall meetings across the country. They asked tough questions and provided us with unbeatable insight to where politicians stand on the latest Gang of Eight amnesty proposal.
I try my best to find all opportunities for NumbersUSA activists to get face-to-face time with their Representatives and/or Senators. Some town halls, such as the meetings with Sen. McCain this week in Arizona, garner a ton of media attention. But, most do not. That is why NumberUSA relies on activists to attend the town halls and tell us what is said. Below are some recorded interactions between activists and lawmakers.
Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.):
I attended Congressman McClintock's town hall meeting in Jackson, CA, last night (2/20/13). In response to my criticism of the cost of both illegal aliens and amnesty, Congressman McClintock replied that the cost of amnesty is of less importance than the impact that illegal immigration has on the effectiveness of our immigration laws; i.e., illegal immigration undermines our whole immigration system.
He went on to say that he will not consider any amnesty issues until our borders have been proven secure and our immigration laws have been enforced for a period of time. He did not define how long a period of time is. My impression is that Congressman McClintock will not support a comprehensive immigration reform bill. However, under the aforementioned conditions, he would be open to some amnesty, e.g., for illegal immigrant children raised in this country.
Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.):
Mr. Womack refuses to consider any type of amnesty until he can be sure that our border is secure. I was very pleased that even though he was being hammered by illegal aliens at last nights meeting, Mr. Womack remained very articulate and restated his stance numerous times about having secure borders. The DREAMers apparently were bused in…they attended all 4 of the town halls that were put on.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.):
I did attend Senator Wyden's town hall at Tualatin High School on Thursday last week. The topic of immigration was discussed. I was very pleasantly surprised to hear Senator Wyden say he was for English being the primary language and that immigrants needed to speak the English language. He drew a lot of applause when he said that. This was my first town hall with Senator Wyden. And, as a Republican, I enjoyed it very much.
Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.):
Only one immigration question was asked and it was to Rep. Kevin Yoder. The questioner was an obvious pro-amnesty supporter who read her previously prepared statement towards the end of the event. She stated that professors from both KU and KSU did a study that found immigrants were a tremendous economic benefit to the state of KS. Yoder responded by saying the issue was about illegal immigration and that he will not talk about what to do about those already in the country until the border is secure. He did not elaborate further.
Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.):
I did attend and submitted a written question containing the cost of illegal aliens to taxpayers, unemployed Americans, illegal workers in non-farming jobs etc. I asked if the Congressman would do all he could for getting illegal aliens out of jobs needed by Americans. He disputed all the numbers, saying there is a lot of information on the Internet that is false and cannot be trusted. He did finish saying our immigration laws must be obeyed. It sounded like he may be softening his position on Illegals and "comprehensive immigration reform".
Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Id.):
I did attend the town hall with Representative Raul Labrador on 2/4/13. NumbersUSA came up at least twice and I brought it up the second time. My question was whether Raul would stand by his positions as he stated them to your questionnaire. Raul unhesitatingly stated yes. It was an great town hall and Raul has been an excellent member of Congress. The meeting went very well. He is/was an immigration lawyer and I was very pleased with his responses to my questions, which I asked publicly and by design.
Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.):
On immigration, Buchanan said he opposed an amnesty that would allow current immigrants in the country illegally to instantly become legal citizens. He also said English needs to be the official language of the United States.
Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.):
He stated that our system needs changes but he had issue with those who crossed our border or overstayed their visas being at the front of the line. Rep. Woodall claims we need guest worker program improvements. He also said that we need more STEM candidates to remain after graduation. He has stated in past conference calls that this issue is NOT on the mind of most voters that he hears from. In summary he will follow Speaker Boehner's lead unless rattled seriously.
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.):
He repeated his stand that border enforcement / security must be in place first. He stated that he was a 2nd generation citizen and had great respect for legal immigration / immigrants. No respect for illegal immigration/ immigrants. He was however part of the 2007 Comprehensive plan initial support.
Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.):
Numerous people stood up and spoke against illegal immigration and this amnesty that is going on. A nurse discussed how much the illegal aliens are abusing the medical system. An older man spoke about how illegal aliens are getting government assistance. Another man said he is a veteran and that the veterans are well experienced and need work and would be happy to protect our borders. Another woman was a member of minutemen and is sick and tired of illegal aliens in our country. All people were clapping and cheering for these people who spoke against illegal immigration. Congressman Lipinski said it is the first concern that people speak about at all of his town hall meetings and that he doesn't agree that illegal aliens should be able to come into this country illegally and stay, but that Congress is working on this immigration reform.
This sounds like a way to give amnesty to all illegal aliens to us. We asked why deportation of illegals was not a solution. He said it just couldn't be done. We asked why not. Rep. Lipinski just referred back to immigration reform. We want illegal aliens deported. Kathleen told him that she found out about this meeting from NumbersUSA and that we received no information that he was speaking here from local papers or articles. Rep. Lipinski said he only sent literature to his new township residents (new, meaning those districts that were newly allocated in the redistricting). This didn't make sense that all residents wouldn't get this info. So, thanks for the info about the meeting, or we would have never known about it.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.):
The town hall went great! I very much admire Thomas Massie. He is not for amnesty, or big government and he is for fiscal responsibility.
Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.):
I did ask Representative Noem if she supported the current bill being developed in the Senate. She stated she was against amnesty but believed certain immigration reforms were probably necessary. The details of what those reforms might be were not discussed. She also said she had not yet seen the details of the Senate bill being proposed.
Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.):
I was at the town hall meeting in Pohatcong last night. There were people from as far away as Westfield and at least three of us from Bernards Township. I did not see anyone from any open border groups there. The topic of amnesty came up a few times and Lance seemed on board not to favor it but was wishy-washy. He sees that we must create jobs and improve the economy, but did not tie the economy and unemployment and lack of jobs to the problem of all of the illegal aliens in the country!
At the end of the questions, there was one person in the audience that asked him about closing the borders. He commented something like: As far as the Mexican border, improving the Mexican economy is the answer! Thank you for letting me know about the town hall meeting, I was able to go with a friend from the town who was as interested as I was to here the comments of Mr. Lance.
Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.):
I did attend a town hall for Paul Broun, US Rep from Georgia. It was held in Dacula City Hall on Tuesday Feb. 18. We briefly talked about immigration. Two points that I remember -- Rep. Broun felt that English should be the official language of the US, he believed in securing the border but didn't feel a physical fence was feasible. I happen to disagree with this approach to border security. If a physical fence is completed, no funding can be pulled by future presidents/congress in order to maintain a "virtual" fence.
Rep. Jamie Herrera-Buetler (R-Wa.):
Herrera-Beutler commented that as a descendant of Mexican immigrants, she understands why people immigrate, but, she believes in the rule of law. First, she said, the country must secure its borders. Next, the nation needs to have a debate about how to handle people who have come into the country illegally. The process needs to be fair but it needs to allow people to immigrate. The process shouldn't be rushed. "I feel we should tackle it 1. security, 2. fixing the immigration system, and 3. then we talk about folks who are here illegally." She commented, too, that she could see that a guest worker program could be feasible.
Do you want to be a NumbersUSA activist?
The town halls are still going on through this weekend. If you did not get an email from me the past week alerting you on a town hall, click here to subscribe to our local activism emails or call your Congressman or Senator’s office to see if they are holding any other events. I also suggest subscribing to your lawmakers' newsletters. These weekly or monthly newsletters keep you up-to-date on what your Congress Member is doing. You can sign up for electronic or paper newsletters by calling your Congressional office or visiting your lawmakers' websites.
Are you too busy for a town hall but still would like face-to-face time with your Congressman or Senator? Any constituent can request appointments with their congressional members. The next “constituent work weeks” are March 25-29 and April 1-5. You can call in advance and request a meeting with your lawmaker for times most convenient to you.
If you attended a town hall or similar event recently, please let us know how it went! This information is so, so important. Use this link to send me feedback so I can post it in my next blog.
Thank you for your activism and keep up the great work!
MELANIE OUBRE is the Local Activism Coordinator for NumbersUSA