Before Congress let out for recess in August, top Republicans drafted a memo to their rank and file members. The memo, which was obtained by Breitbart, suggested to members what they should be discussing during August. Surprisingly, immigration was not included anywhere in this memo.
Although illegal immigration was deemed a "serious problem" by 80% of voters in a new Rasmussen poll and is also frequently discussed by 2016 Presidential candidates, GOP Congressional leaders would rather stay far away from the topic.
Instead, Republicans were told to tout Obama’s trade deal and the Keystone Pipeline. One of the suggested venues for holding meetings was at Local Chambers of Commerce. It seems the GOP Leaders are standing firm in their pro-big business arena while continuing to deny the anti-elitist, anti-establishment voter sentiment that can be heard so clearly by Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.
Unfortunately, very few GOP Leaders actually held town hall meetings for their constituents during August. The ones who did stayed on message and refused to talk about immigration.
One NumbersUSA member in Washington state sent me a report describing his experience at Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ town hall event. He described the Congresswoman as “uncomfortable” and “unwelcoming” while with her constituents. McMorris Rodgers is the Republican Conference Chairman and you guessed it, did not talk immigration at her event. Majority Whip Steve Scalise only held forums on the Iran deal for his constituents in Louisiana.
GOP Leadership should take notice of one comment made at Rep. Dave Brat’s town hall in Virginia. In 2014, Rep. Brat beat then Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a race that shocked the beltway but not the voters of Virginia’s 8th District.
“You’ve already had more open town hall meetings in 12 months on the job than Eric Cantor had in 12 years,” the man said, drawing laughter and loud applause from a crowd of about 150 people.
When will GOP Leadership snap out of this denial???
NumbersUSA is proud to once again bring you the most exhaustive list of town hall meetings during August. We posted over 1,500 town hall meetings and Presidential Candidate appearances on the google map last month. Below you will find clips from another round news articles written about town hall meetings during recess.
Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID)
As part of that subject, he was asked about illegal immigration, especially in the light of comments made by GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump and others on the topic.
“I believe that we are a nation of laws and that we are founded on the principal of laws,” he said. “The question is whether we allow someone to come into this country illegally and grant them amnesty or deport the millions who are here. It’s a difficult quandary.
“I think if we grant amnesty, we just encourage more illegal activity, but deportation may not be feasible, either. I believe that a workable guest worker program must be implemented. This would not provide a pathway to citizenship but may solve some of the problems. We must also have very strong and aggressive protection of our borders and find a way to keep track of those here on work visas.”
From: Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo holds town hall meeting in Inkom
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC)
Regarding immigration, a question was posed about whether Meadows supports, like Donald Trump, the deportation of 11 million people – and how Meadows reconciles the immigration issue with his personal faith.
Meadows, skirting around being compared to Trump, said the issue comes down to a having compassion, but also asking what's fair.
“I don't think anybody here thinks that's pragmatic, but here's the problem – by not addressing the problem, for years and years…it creates a situation where we start to look at desperate things,” he said, “It's time that we address this as Congress.”
Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX)
One of the early questions centered on if Farenthold would support deporting millions of undocumented immigrants.
When Farenthold stopped short of saying he wouldn't, several in the crowd objected.
"When he was asked about deporting 12 million people, his (response) was, 'I don't think it's practical,' not that there is something morally reprehensible about putting 12 millions of people in box cars and shipping them across the border. That I have the problem with," said John Stafford, a local sign maker, who works primarily on political yard signs for Democrats.
When asked, Farenthold said there is no reason to consider deportation while the border is not secure. "There's no point fooling with some of these immigration issues until the border is secure," he told the Caller-Times after the meeting. "Even if we went and deported 11 million people today and didn't secure the border, they'd be back in no time."
Still, Congress would never approve a deportation of that magnitude, he added. The most common concerns raised by attendees, however, were issues veterans were having with local branches of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Specific problems Farenthold directed to staff members standing in the back, and he agreed with most suggestions about specific fixes or problems regularly occurring here.
Immigration is still a topic in which still chides him, and that was next on his list. Farenthold continues to express exasperation that it is impossible to secure the border if the current laws aren’t being followed. He said that illegal immigrants are taking advantage of this country’s generous safety net.
“Basically we have created a sanctuary country,” he said.
Rep. David Young (R-IA)
"Well the Presidential race is really driving a lot of the debate. But the debate is being driven by what people are thinking and feeling any given day about their government and just about life. I'm hearing a lot about the Iran agreement. I still hear a lot about the EPA, especially here in the rural heartland area and I'm hearing about immigration as well."
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
McCain faced a primary challenge in 2010 from former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, and trounced him after promising to boost border security. The campaign featured a well-known television ad where McCain walked along the U.S.-Mexico border and promised to “complete the danged fence.”
That full fence remains unbuilt, but McCain said the comprehensive immigration plan he pushed through the Senate in 2013 would have fulfilled that promise. The legislation stalled in the House, leaving border security and what to do with an estimated 11 million people in the U.S. illegally an outstanding political issue.
“I know that the border is a very, very important issue to many citizens of Arizona,” McCain said. “That’s why I was the one who passed legislation through the Senate that requires 90 percent effective control of the border, 100 percent situational awareness, 6½ billion dollars, 20,000 additional Border Patrol. I’m proud of that legislation.”
The reform bill also contained expanded farmworker and professional visa provisions, and a provision that required employers to check work authorization though the federal e-verify system.
“When I said we were going to build the danged fence, that’s what that legislation does,” McCain said. “If they have a better idea of how to have a comprehensive approach to immigration reform, first and foremost being border security, then I’ll be glad to hear their proposal.”
Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA)
He said that conservatives helped defeat a bill that would have provided undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship through joining the U.S. military.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)
Also included was Johnson’s emphatic disagreement with the Trump immigration plan, and concerns about the growth of government.
“We’ve already held eight hearings on border security alone, we’re actually going to be publishing our 100 page plus report,” Johnson said. “I don’t think that’s going to happen, I don’t think it’s practical to do it,” he said of Donald Trump’s plan, which is an expansive effort that includes building a wall across the entire southern border, instituting criminal penalties for overstaying visas, defunding sanctuary cities and ending birthright citizenship, among other aspects.
From: Sen. Ron Johnson addresses concerns at town hall meeting
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX)
Border security: “I don't know how many more pepole are going to have to die at the hands of violent illegal immigrants when this nation finally wakes up. It is not a matter of resources, it is a lack of will of our nation to enforce our border security.”
From: Congressman talks Constitution, same-sex marriage, other topics
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MELANIE OUBRE IS THE MANAGER OF LOCAL ACTIVISM FOR NUMBERSUSA.
Updated: Fri, Feb 19th 2016 @ 10:29am EST