Sometimes, the things you hear in debates need a bit more context.
During both the City Club of Idaho Falls debate and the KTVB debate between Rep. Mike Simpson and former Rep. Richard Stallings, Stallings mentioned a personal tie to undocumented workers.
“I’ve got a young man working for me from Burley whose folks came when he was six months old,” Stallings said in the Oct. 15 KTVB debate. “They’ve looked over their shoulder every day. They did not get a head start in the system. They paid tax in Burley. Now this young man can’t go to school because he has to pay out of state tuition… because he’s undocumented.”
I put in a call to Stallings campaign manager Seth Lounsbury to get clarification on the remark, as it’s against federal law to knowingly employ undocumented workers.
It turns out that isn’t the whole story. The intern, whom Lounsbury declined to name, is currently a student at Idaho State University.
“He’s a DREAMer,” Lounsbury said, referring to the proposed DREAM act aimed at undocumented young people whose parents brought them to the United States when they were children.
According to Lounsbury, the intern applied for, and received, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — a product of the Obama administration that allows undocumented young people defer removal proceedings while they study, work or serve in the military. The student also has the proper documentation to allow him to intern for the campaign, Lounsbury added. After he completes his studies at ISU, he hopes to study to become an immigration lawyer.
DACA does not provide a path to citizenship. It does provide a card for legal residency. “Up until these last few years, he’s spent his entire life undocumented up until that point,” Lounsbury said.
Stallings hasn’t employed undocumented workers on his campaign, Lounsbury said.
The background helps explain Stallings’ passion for the issue. Stallings and Simpson sparred on immigration issues, including the proposed DREAM act, during both debates.
Voters have one more chance to hear from Simpson and Stallings during the Idaho Public Television debate at 7 pm Sunday. We hope you tune in.