Following the spread of a video showing him suggest that an 11-year-old girl's undocumented father should follow laws and face deportation, Rep. Scott DesJarlais issued a statement standing by his remarks to the girl.
Over the weekend, the congressman's comments during a forum held in Murfreesboro last week began receiving national attention. The 49-second clip showed DesJarlais listening and responding to the girl's question of what she could do to ensure that her father could stay in the U.S.
On Tuesday, views for the video had reached more than 83,000.
In an emailed statement, DesJarlais, who opposed the recent Senate immigration overhaul, reiterated his answer, saying that the U.S. is a "nation of laws."
The congressman also said he had a "responsibility to be truthful."
"I felt I owed Ms. Molina an honest answer to her question," DesJarlais said. "We are a nation of laws, and breaking those laws have consequences. While this country has always had a generous immigration policy, we simply cannot condone individuals coming here illegally. As a member of Congress, I strongly believe I have a responsibility to be truthful, even if that means delivering difficult news."
The girl shown in the video, Joanna Molina, is a U.S. citizen. But her father is an undocumented immigrant and has been placed in deportation proceedings, according to a Tennessean report.
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