This week, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) became the most recent and the twenty-fourth House Republican to publicly endorse a path to citizenship as part of an immigration overhaul. At a town hall in Utah, he told a local reporter that “there should be a pathway to citizenship, not a special pathway and not no pathway, but there has to be a legal lawful way to go through this process that works and right now it doesn’t.”
The comment is particularly notable coming from Rep. Chaffetz, who has previously been viewed as an immigration hardliner. In fact, he won his seat by running from the right against Rep. Chris Cannon of Utah, an ardently pro-immigration Republican.
Meanwhile in Alabama, Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL)–already a noted supporter of immigration reform and citizenship–gave extended remarks on the need for reform at a town hall meeting. As the Washington Post reports some of his key quotes:
Almost 99 percent of ‘em are here for the same reasons that our ancestors came here. They’re here for a better life…
Y’all may think I’m copping out, but with my Christian faith, it’s hard for me to say that I’m gonna divide these families up…
Bring ‘em into our system. Give them legal status. They will pay Social Security. They’ll work hard…
I’ll tell you this, as your Congressman, I am not gonna separate families or send them back.
Like Chaffetz, Bachus can be considered a nontraditional supporter when it comes to immigration reform. As Greg Sargent put it:
Just last year, Bachus fended off a primary challenge from State Senator Scott Beason, who was well known for sponsoring a tough anti-immigration bill and attacked Bachus, who opposed it, for having “sided with illegal aliens.” All indications are that Bachus has yet to politically self destruct over his advocacy.
Sargent also tweeted, “Conservatives could support immig reform if they wanted to. Rep. Spencer Bachus shows how it’s done.”
If these deeply conservative members are publicly for reform with a path to citizenship, why does Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) seem so spooked about moving forward with a vote?