By Kenric Ward | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau
RICHMOND, Va. — While amnesty activists called U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor a stumbling block to immigration reform, GOP challenger Dave Brat accused the House majority leader of being “in cahoots” with them.
The surreal scene that played out Wednesday showed the highly politicized role immigration is playing in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District this year.
“There is no Republican in the country that is more liberal on immigration than Eric Cantor,” Brat told reporters on the Capitol steps.
“The Chamber (of Commerce) wants low-skilled cheap labor. (Facebook founder) Mark Zuckerberg wants high-skilled cheap labor. Eric Cantor wants to give it all to them,” Brat said.
After Brat’s verbal jabs, U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., was hosted inside the Capitol by the pro-migrant group, CASA de Virginia.
Gutierrez, a vocal proponent of legalizing illegal immigrants, was surrounded by a small crowd holding signs declaring: “Eric Cantor: The One Man Blocking Immigration Reform.”
The CASA event came just three days after the Cantor campaign sent mailers touting a tough stance on illegal immigration.
Brat said Cantor, seeking his eighth term in the House of Representatives, has flip-flopped under pressure from disgruntled constituents in his conservative central Virginia district.
CASA’s counter-event — conducted in both Spanish and English — appeared to protest too much, considering Cantor’s close rapport with Gutierrez.
“Eric Cantor gave a speech in 2013 in which he called for amnesty and citizenship for illegal immigrants,” Brat said. “Cantor has called for more guest workers — guest workers that will take jobs from struggling families in Virginia.”
The Randolph-Macon College economics professor accused Cantor of “flying around with Gutierrez” and promoting a “radical pro-amnesty” agenda, except at election time.
Cantor, who was not present, applauded Gutierrez last year for pushing immigration-reform legislation. The No. 2 leader in the House told Breitbart News that moving a bill forward was “essential and critical.”
He has not signed the no-amnesty, U.S. workers protection pledge circulated by the enforcement-oriented Federation for American Immigration Reform.
“Eric Cantor saying he opposes amnesty is like Barack Obama saying he opposes Obamacare,” Brat said.
CASA spokeswoman Maria Jose Sandoval did not respond to Watchdog’s questions about the Brat-Cantor contest.
Kenric Ward is a national reporter for Watchdog.org and chief of the Virginia Bureau. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (571) 319-9824. @Kenricward