BASTROP, Texas — Undocumented youths brought to the country by their parents, or so-called DREAMers, should be given a pathway to citizenship while their parents should be deported, according to statements by Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) at two Texas town hall events in Bastrop and Luling on Saturday. In a surprising change from his victim-blaming tactics last year, Farenthold said that these DREAMers are “victims” who oftentimes don’t speak Spanish and deserve legal status.
At the two town hall events, Farenthold endorsed a “compassionate solution” that would give legal status to a small subset of undocumented immigrants, leaving out countless millions. But even that moderated position comes just two months after he voted for an amendment authored by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) to defund a program that would provide temporary legal status and halt a deportation ban on such DREAMers.
In Bastrop, Farenthold said:
FARENTHOLD: We’re working pretty hard on Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) KIDS Act and what we’re trying to do is to find a compassionate solution for their status that doesn’t reward illegal behavior of their parents. I believe that the kids are innocent victims in this. We spent money educating them. Many of them don’t speak a word of Spanish and we’re thinking of deporting them. That doesn’t make sense. We’re educating them and we’re sending them to a country where they have nothing […]
In Luling, he said:
FARENTHOLD: I did vote to defund the Obama program that defers deporting the so-called DREAMers because that was the President’s decision and the president shouldn’t unilaterally get to decide what laws to enforce or not enforce. The pro-immigration people are really having a fit saying that I don’t care about the children. That vote was not about immigration issues. That vote was about the president enforcing all the laws.
While Farenthold is claiming now that his opposition to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was based on a procedural disagreement with Obama’s executive order, he expressed other opinions last year during the program’s announcement. At the time, Farenthold blamed undocumented youths for crossing the border, rather than characterizing them as “victims.” Pointing to his sixteen year old daughter, who has a say in “pretty much everything the family wants to do,” Farenthold said, “You’re also talking about people that came over at sixteen years of age. At that point [they] had a say in it. And that looks kind of more like amnesty.” In Obama’s announcement, the President noted that some youths only find out that they are undocumented when they apply for a college scholarship, job, or a driver’s license.
Farenthold represents a district that has a 49.5 percent Hispanic population, but that has not stopped him from voicing his unwillingness to take up an approved bipartisan Senate immigration bill. He said that the Senate immigration bill “doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell in the House of Representatives.”
The issue of immigration is clearly divisive in Farenthold’s district. A shouting match took place between immigration advocates and Farenthold supporters outside of his office last week. According to America’s Voice, Farenthold supporters kept asking advocates with darker skin tones whether they were illegal.