As the smell of Chick-fil-A sandwiches cooling in the corner wafted over them, some of the House's most conservative members took an unusually soft tone on immigration reform on Wednesday.
While acknowledging at their monthly "Conversations With Conservatives" event that little in the form of actual legislation is likely to be done on the issue this year, several conservatives implicitly voiced their support for allowing those who were brought into the country illegally as children, and for those who are willing to work hard, to solidify their status in the country.
Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, kicked off the discussion by using the L-word. "I think there is a middle ground. It's not a citizenship path, but it is a legalization path," Barton said, adding that "the overwhelming majority of the Hispanics in Texas are either there because they were born there or they've come there to work and they are working and they're positive, productive citizens."
Barton went on to recount a meeting he held in his district on Tuesday with a group of Hispanic-Americans, including a woman in her "mid-40s, maybe her early 50s," he said, who was brought to the United States illegally by her parents when she was just four years old. "She's worked hard, she's paid her taxes, she's a productive citizen. We've got to find a way as Republicans to help that woman and her family keep her in this country without being perpetually afraid that she's going to be deported," Barton said.