Three-hundred conservatives, ranging from pastors to farmers, will descend on Capitol Hill later this month to press Congress for an immigration overhaul.
USA Today reports that the 300 conservatives are staging a “fly-in” as they make their way from across the nation to converge in Washington on Oct. 28. The group plans to meet with Republican lawmakers and make a pitch for a new immigration law.
One of the farmers ready to head to Washington is 70-year-old rancher Terry Jones, who will make the trip from Emmett, Idaho. Jones said that the nation’s immigration system made it impossible for him to find enough legal workers to staff his Rim Fire Ranch.
He sold his 700-head dairy herd after getting tired of looking for legal workers.
"I was getting too old to fuss with finding the labor," Jones said. "We're not here wanting to break the laws. Heavens to Betsy, we've got stewardship of the land and our animals, employees we want to treat right and pay a fair wage to. But the government is just interested in ... who's going to get the credit, who's going to get the votes."
The “fly-in” won’t be your typical rally, such as one seen last week that resulted in 200 arrests, including several lawmakers. Instead, people like Lanae Erickson Hatalsky of the Third Way, a think-tank that supports an immigration overhaul that includes citizenship for undocumented immigrants, believe that it may be more productive in getting their message across.
"The kinds of rallies that get the progressive community together are really aimed at just keeping this conversation in the limelight and giving people something to do," Hatalsky said. "Those more conservative people and their unusual suspects are aimed at a different goal — actually persuading conservative members of Congress that this is something they need to do and providing them the political cover they need."
Among the lawmakers the groups will meet is Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.
"Having more pastors, more business people, more farmers come and talk about their problems — I'm going to applaud that," Chaffetz said.
He has embraced many aspects of immigration overhaul and sponsored a bill, passed by the House in 2011, that expanded visas for high-tech workers. More recently, Chaffetz expressed his support for a pathway to citizenship for the country’s undocument immigrants.