On Sunday, less than week after Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) stunningly defeated him in a primary, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) conceded that immigration was a big issue in his defeat, saying that he angered both sides with his support for piecemeal amnesty legislation.
“Now, did that infuriate folks on both sides? Sure,” Cantor said on ABC’s This Week. “But it is the principled position. I think an incremental reform approach to immigration is what we need.”
In addition to his support for amnesty, Cantor’s political bobbing and weaving on the issue made him seem like he did not stand for anything, which, as conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham noted, was something voters did not appreciate. Cantor sent mailers to voters in his district portraying himself as an anti-amnesty warrior, which voters did not buy.
As Breitbart News reported, Cantor, who became the first sitting House Majority Leader to ever be ousted, said that “one of the great founding principles” of the country involved giving illegal immigrant children citizenship so that they not be penalized for the mistakes of their parents. During the last month of the campaign, Brat said that was “one of the most radical pro-amnesty statements ever delivered by a sitting representative,” and he blamed Cantor’s words for attracting more illegal immigrant children to the United States. That was also a concern that United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) National Council President Kenneth Palinkas had after the House GOP’s immigration principles were released.
The Friday before his stunning election loss, Cantor declared that he was willing to work with President Barack Obama to give amnesty to illegal immigrant children.
“But I have told the President there are some things that we can work on together,” Cantor told a local television station. “We can work on the border security bill together. We can work on things like the kids.”
Brat only gained traction in the race when he started to hammer Cantor on the amnesty issue, which allowed his broader anti-crony capitalism message to get through. Cantor emphasized that he has always been for giving citizenship to illegal immigrant children.
“But as far as immigration is concerned, my position never wavered,” Cantor said on This Week, saying he was for a piecemeal approach instead of for a more comprehensive amnesty bill. “I have always said that we ought to deal with the kids who did not break any laws… [who] came into this country, in many cases, unbeknownst to them.”