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Rep. Brat: GOP Should Not Forget the Word ‘Compassionate’ in Immigration Debate

A Border Patrol agent looks out a water drain tunnel that runs from Mexico into Nogales, Ariz. (Photo by Josh Denmark/U.S. Border Patrol)

Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) said GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s message on illegal immigration continues to resonate with voters because he is “one of the few” willing to address the issue “head on,” which has “huge implications” for the average American.

Trump continues to lead the Republican field in national polls.

“Just on immigration, etc., he’s been one of the few who is willing to just take on the issue head on. It’s a huge issue for the average American worker. Everybody knows there’s tremendous wage pressure downward – people having a hard time making a living and the economy is not growing,” Brat said following a “Conversations with Conservatives” event on Capitol Hill.

“The youth unemployment rate in the cities is 30 percent-plus, and he’s bringing up an issue that has huge implications for the average person’s pocketbook and security, right? The immigration issue is morphing together with the migration issue and we live in uncertain times economically and now politically, and so he’s at least willing to address and take those issues head on.”

PJM asked Brat if he thinks Republicans could win in 2016 with an anti-amnesty position while Democrats maintain they are compassionate for supporting a pathway to citizenship.

Brat predicted that the Republican Party would lose the illegal immigration debate if its candidates omit the word “compassionate” from their message.

“We shouldn’t lose the debate, but we will lose the debate if we don’t use the word you just used which is ‘compassionate,’ right? So if you’ve followed conservative logic and conservative tradition, the Judeo-Christian tradition, gave us the rule of law, historically, the rights language emerged only in Western Europe at about 1400 and the rights language of course turned into our Constitution and that’s produced free markets.”

Brat said those three pillars have made America the wealthiest and most successful country on Earth.

“So if you want to talk about compassion, I would suggest that model that has produced religious toleration and religious liberty and equality for everyone and that’s what’s being challenged from abroad now. Our very liberal tradition, right, the classical liberal tradition, is now under attack – that is the tradition that gave us the word compassion,” he said.

During the event, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) said Congress should put a “time out” on the Syrian refugee process to allow for adequate background checks.

“This is something the American public is firmly, firmly behind – this issue,” he said. “When you have Homeland Security and the FBI director actually having doubts with regards to our screening process, this is something that has to come before Congress and have a conversation.”

Trump has topped Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in some recent polls as the stronger candidate on combating terrorism. Gosar was asked about Trump’s poll numbers and which candidate he thinks would be best on national security.

“I’ll tell you what, I think the American people are the people we should be listening to. I mean they are the government, we the people, and we ought to be listening to them but they have been right along,” he responded. “The thing about it is we need our elected officials to honor the promises they actually made to them, so we’ll see.”