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EDIT: Unfortunately, Franks has since walked back his support.
This weekend, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) became the first House Republican to support HR 15, and Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) became the 29th House Republican to support immigration reform with a path to citizenship.
According to the Arizona Republic, immigration reform advocates who camped outside Franks’ house last Friday, hoping to speak to him, were unexpectedly rewarded with a 25-minute conversation and group prayer with Franks. The Congressman said that he could support a path to citizenship and that he expects a vote on immigration in the House.
As Rep. Franks, joined by his wife and two young children, said:
I’m one of those that does not believe that people having been in this country… illegally now should be barred from that path to citizenship because we have not enforced the law. At the same time, I don’t want to do something that creates a special path to citizenship that creates an incentive for more people to come illegally.
I’d like to see a single pathway to citizenship for everyone, that no one would be blocked from, unless they do something criminal…and I’d like to make sure that we have clear border security…And, of course, I’d like to see the whole immigration code simplified and rewritten so that somebody besides God could understand it.
The advocates–from Promise Arizona–had set up a prayer vigil outsider his house, along with a mock dinner table with an empty chair to symbolize a deported family member. Franks is known for his Christian faith and advocacy on family issues.
Since it only takes 218 votes to legislation in the House, there have long been enough votes to pass immigration reform with a path to citizenship–and as Denham and Franks show, support continues to build. Many expect that a vote on some type of immigration bill will be held this year, and advocates plan to continue ratcheting up the pressure on Congress to make sure that it will be a vote for real reform.