A tea party-backed Texas lawmaker sparred with a heated constituent Wednesday at a town hall on immigration, where he urged a compassionate approach to dealing with the undocumented migrant children streaming across the border.
State Rep. David Simpson (R-TX) gave a presentation on his recent tour of the Texas-Mexico border, explaining that officials believe tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors are fleeing abuse and sexual slavery in Central America.
“We need to love the immigrant, love people, and remember that these children are being fodder in this situation,” Simpson said at one point.
Once the floor opened up to questions, one constituent, who the Longview News-Journal identified as Longview resident Terri Hall, took the microphone to suggest that migrants were crossing the border in such large numbers because of a “well-planned, well-thought-out” government operation.
“I understand the humanitarian and the compassion. But you are to represent us,” she said. “We have children, and we have elderly people who have immunodeficiency disorders. These are people that are coming in with diseases — leprosy, tuberculosis, polio. You need to represent us.”
Hall’s comment was met with loud applause.
Later in the question-and-answer session, she pressed Simpson to say whether he’d support calling a special legislative session to address the migrant influx.
“I think it would be probably ineffective,” Simpson said. “You haven’t been down there and seen the 181 people [in the House of Representatives] working as a committee, it can get –”
“Oh my god, then what are you there for?” Hall interjected before asking a second time whether Simpson would call for a special session.
“Not at this time,” he replied. “I think it would be a waste of taxpayer dollars.”
Listen to Hall’s complaint below starting at the 30:30 mark, followed by the exchange about the special session: