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Congress is in recess, which means that town halls this week and next week will offer a glimpse how voters are responding to the Trump Administration’s agenda and how Congress is reacting to it. Two town halls this week in Arizona and Virginia demonstrated that on immigration (along with other issues), the answer is: not well. Constituents are reacting poorly to Trump’s plan to build a border wall as well as his deportation agenda, and they are letting elected officials know that they are not standing with those who help him implement either.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who is up for reelection in 2018, was jeered, screamed at, and booed for the better part of 2 1/2 hours as constituents repeatedly chanted at him (among other things) “NO STUPID WALL”. As one constituent vehemently told him, “I do not want you or anyone in Congress to use any of my tax dollars for a wall!”, a comment which brought the crowd to its feet and started a room-wide chant.
Meanwhile, in Virginia, Bob Mosier, the Sheriff of Fauquier County, spent more than an hour trying to explain to a town hall of 150 people why he wanted to partner with Trump’s Department of Homeland Security in order to deport people whom Mosier called “criminal aliens”.
His audience did not agree, and repeatedly questioned Mosier about why immigrant members of the community should be handed to the feds. They expressed skepticism about how his efforts would make the county safer, especially if immigrants came to distrust the police. And they told Mosier that they did not want immigrants to be deported if they hadn’t committed violent crimes.
In a vote at the end of the meeting, attendees were asked whether they supported or opposed Sheriff Mosier’s efforts to partner with ICE. The vote showed the room overwhelmingly opposed. As the Fauquier Times reported:
Dennis Ruhl asked why undocumented immigrants would be treated differently than anyone else in the county jail.
When Mosier answered, “because they’re here illegally,” Ruhl countered: “We didn’t hire you to be our immigration attorney,” which was met with loud applause.
“I’m not. I’m here to protect the community,” Mosier replied.
Ann Masch, who identified herself as a former school bus driver, noted that children of undocumented parents might now be afraid to report criminal activity to school or law-enforcement officials.
“I don’t buy that you’re trying to protect the immigrant community,” Masch added. “They’re completely terrified. Any talk that they’re not is complete bunk.”
Jean Boenish was not convinced Mosier understood the attendees’ concerns.
“He doesn’t want to know what people think because he doesn’t care,” she added.
More town halls are happening next week around the country. Find your closest town hall here.
You can watch the Flake town hall below: