Before being shot point blank in the head this weekend and surviving (thank God), U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was expected to be an outspoken leader of the immigration debate taking shape in congress this year.
Giffords had just won a very close, and at times contentious, battle to hold on to her seat facing opposition from a Tea Party candidate. Many lawmakers saw her ability to hold on to her position in a swing district in a state that has been the genesis of so much vile immigration talk as a sign that she would take a leadership position when the House took up the issue later this year. Giffords herself said immigration reform was her "top priority in Congress."
She took a stand against the SB 1070 laws when they were passed last year in her home state, lamenting in a public statement: "Arizona is now known around the world for enacting an extreme immigration law in response to the federal government's failure to act."
She has advocated for comprehensive reform, including tough employer sanctions but feels as though border security must be addressed first and foremost. She does not support across the board amnesty, but rather a program where undocumented immigrations are, "brought out from the shadows and overcome very strict requirements if they are to apply for legalization."
Though Giffords seems to be recovering miraculously considering the severity of her wounds, no one is sure when she is expected to return to congress. Yesterday, President Obama told the almost 30 thousand people gathered at the University of Arizona that she opened her eyes for the first time right after he visited her in the hospital.