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After Just One Day, Rep. Trent Franks Walks Back Support for Path to Citizenship

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4:14 PM UPDATE: Here’s an excerpted statement from Promise Arizona:

“We remind Mr. Franks that more than two-thirds of Arizonans support an immigration reform plan that includes a path to citizenship for the nation’s undocumented population, because they understand that the current system causes incredible pain and suffering among immigrants and their families, and ignores the real and tangible social and economic contributions made by immigrants.”

Yesterday, we gave Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) a big hear hug over his support for immigration reform and a path to citizenship–but today, he’s walking some of his comments back.

The guy who talked about not wanting to bar immigrants from citizenship and reforming the US immigration system so that “somebody besides God could understand it” clarified his comments to the Arizona Republic yesterday, saying that he supports two options for undocumented immigrants–legal status or going home, but not citizenship:

Legalization, in which people would pay back taxes and fines and receive permits to work in the country legally, but they could never receive citizenship.

Or returning to their home countries, applying for green cards and going through the current immigration process, which can take decades and is not guaranteed.

Franks also tried to explain that he made his earlier remarks about citizenship because he was trying to insulate the Promise Arizona advocates–who held a prayer vigil at his house—from what he really thinks:

Sometimes, in any situation, you don’t hit people in the face with the worst of it.  I wanted them to know, while maybe we didn’t agree on everything, there were some things we do agree on. I do care about them.

Oh, Trent Franks.  If the Congressman was worried about what advocates would think of him if he told them what he really thinks, he’s going to have A LOT to worry about now that he’s ticked off the entire pro-immigration reform movement by coming out in favor of citizenship, and then taking it back.  Rep. Franks should’ve paid more attention to what happened to Marco Rubio over the weekend when the Senator from Florida walked back his support for the Senate immigration bill.  It wasn’t pretty for Rubio, and it won’t be for Franks.

The thing is, Franks is specifically known for his Christian faith and advocacy on family issues.  When he talked about citizenship, he originally said that he wanted to “do the right thing” and “deal with this issue in the right way. In a way that will honor God, honor humanity, and honor America, and keep the cause of freedom as much alive in this world as it can be.”

Unfortunately, he seems to have concluded that the godly thing to do is create a permanent second class of residents, forever separated from their American friends, brothers, sisters, and children by the fact that they will never be able to pursue citizenship.  Franks is saying that immigrants can work for us but never become one of us–an offensive position completely antithetical to American values and history.  Eighty-eight percent of all Americans support reform that contains citizenship; even opponents of immigration reform recognize that legal status without citizenship is un-American.  In our country, anybody who accepts all the responsibilities of citizenship should have the honor and right to become a citizen.  Full stop.

We had hoped, when Franks first talked about citizenship last Friday, that his moral compass was leading him to join the 28 other House Republicans who have acknowledged that immigration reform with a path to citizenship must be the way forward.  Perhaps he really does think that’s true, and has just gotten cold feet.  We hope he will soon clarify his clarification—and move away from his current position of moral cowardice.