Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R) hosted an event in his Tennessee district last week on immigration, and fielded a question from a frightened 11 year old, who asked, "Mr. DesJarlais, I have papers, but I have a dad who's undocumented. What can I do to have him stay with me?" The response is a little tough to see in this clip, but it's illustrative of a larger issue.
The Republican congressman could have tried to make the girl feel a little better, but he chose to do the opposite. After thanking his constituent for the question, DesJarlais said "the answer still kind of remains the same, that we have laws and we need to follow those laws and that's where we're at."
In other words, say goodbye to your dad -- DesJarlais thinks the best course of action would be break up your family. What's more, much of the crowd thought that sounded great.
ProgressivePopulist.org reported that the girl is seeing a child psychologist in order to cope with the stress and anxiety of losing her father to deportation.
There are a few takeaways to keep in mind here. First, the next time DesJarlais and his allies reference the importance of "family values," I hope we'll remember the congressman's comments at this event.
Second, with every incident like this, the Republican Party's outreach to the Latino takes a major step backwards.
And third, I'm not sure DesJarlais, of all people, wants to emphasize that "we have laws and we need to follow those laws."
We learned last fall, for example, that DesJarlais was caught up in a sordid tale in which he committed adultery by sleeping with a patient, then pressured his mistress to have an abortion in the hopes of hiding his misdeeds from the wife he allegedly abused.
Indeed, during a messy break-up with his ex-wife, DesJarlais also allegedly held a gun in his mouth for three hours, "dry fired" a gun outside his wife's locked bedroom door, and was accused of other forms of spousal abuse.
In time, additional stories about alleged misdeeds surfaced.
Maybe, when it comes to kids poised to lose their parents, DesJarlais can do better than "we have laws and we need to follow those laws"?