Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., was conspicuous in his absence at an immigration reform rally held in his district Monday, reports The Hill
But organizers of the gathering did all they could to ensure the head of the House Judiciary Committee would be aware of their stand on the issue.
Goodlatte’s congressional phone number was scrawled along the front wall of the city courthouse, as well as being taped to water bottles and written on hand-written placards.
As the rally wound down, the estimated 300 attendees were instructed by organizers to text Goodlatte their demands for comprehensive immigration.
With the House Judiciary Committee viewed as a key player in the future of an immigration reform bill, Goodlatte has become a central figure for advocates of the legislation, who may not embrace his politics, but realize the reform measures they seek may need his blessing to advance.
One attendee of the rally who did not come down hard on Goodlatte was the day's featured speaker, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., the leading Democratic advocate for an immigration overhaul that includes a path to citizenship.
"If you came here to hear me say some bad things about Congressman Goodlatte, you came to the wrong place," said Gutierrez, a member of Goodlatte's committee.
Gutierrez said the purpose of his appearance was not to raise the ire of the GOP, but to show that the desire for immigration reform is a bipartisan issue.
"One of the things we wanted to make sure of was just how deep and how wide the support for immigration reform is across this country, even in Virginia, even in Republican parts of Virginia," Gutierrez said.
Goodlatte was invited to the rally but declined, citing scheduling conflicts.
Goodlatte has said he opposes a "special" path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the United States, but is crafting legislation with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., that would grant legal status and a potential citizenship path for children who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents.
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