This Week in Immigration Reform: Town Hall Edition

Is there any hope for immigration reform? Some say no, but over the last week many say that thanks to the efforts of pro-reform groups, there is.

More House Republicans are coming forward to announce their support for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. With the recent additions of Utah’s Jason Chaffetz and Pennsylvania’s Charlie Dent, the count tops two dozen.

But statements from House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte, a crucial  Republican, dimmed the hopes for reform. In a Virginia town hall and talk radio interview, Goodlatte reiterated he does not support a special pathway to citizenship, not even for DREAMers. In addition, Goodlatte “declined an invite by leading immigration reform advocate, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), to participate in bipartisan town hall meetings on the issue.” Gutierrez hosted town halls throughout the country during the August recess.

Washington Post’s Wonkblog aggregated video from several town hall meetings that capture GOP Representatives’ stances on reform. The most notable was Scott DesJarlais in Tennessee, where the Congressman was questioned by an 11-year-old citizen whose father is in deportation proceedings.  When asked, “What can I do so he can stay with me?” he responded, “We have laws and we need to follow those laws, and that’s where we’re at.” 

An update to the Obama administration’s prosecutorial discretion policy announced Friday might help cases like the one DesJarlais discussed from happening in the first place. As reported by ABC News-Univision, the memo to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, “would formalize and broaden the special recognition granted to parents who are picked up by [ICE],” serving as a “reminder that agents can—and should—consider that the person they’re taking into custody might have a family, and that detention can have broader repercussions.”

While Congress spends the last of its summer away from Washington, immigration battles—from attempts to repeal in-state tuition to those approved for DACA in Ohio, to the Dream Nine protests in Arizona, to activism both supporting and denouncing local immigration law enforcement continue to play out in their districts.