McCain Still the Same on Immigration Reform!
John Hawkins, who initially supported Duncan Hunter for president and came to nominally support John McCain after exhausting all other possible Republican choices, has now announced the withdrawal of his support.
Why? “John McCain is a liar. He’s a man without honor, without integrity …” That seems rather harsh. What happened to give him that idea? Well, McCain reiterated his stance on immigration reform yesterday afternoon.
In yet another sign of his pivoting toward the general election, Senator John McCain said at a roundtable with business leaders here today that comprehensive immigration reform should be a top priority for the next president.
Mr. McCain largely stopped talking about the issue and repeatedly invoked a mantra that he had gotten the message from voters that the borders needed to be secured first, before any solution for the illegal immigrants already here is addressed.
After several of the business leaders complained about the difficulty in obtaining temporary H1B visas for scientists and engineers, something the Senate immigration bill was supposed to address, Mr. McCain expressed regret the measure did not pass, calling it a personal “failure,” as well as one by the federal government.
He added: “I believe we have to secure our borders, and I think most Americans agree with that, because it’s a matter of national security. But we must enact comprehensive immigration reform. We must make it a top agenda item if we don’t do it before, and we probably won’t, a little straight talk, as of January 2009.”
Later, Mr. McCain took up the topic again, saying the problem of what to do with illegal immigrants already here needs to be solved, saying “they are also God’s children, and we have to do it in a human and compassionate fashion,” which drew applause from his audience.
Now, having paid attention to McCain over the last several months, including participating in several blogger conference calls with the senator, none of this comes as news to me. Hawkins, however, is incensed.
McCain claimed that he had changed his tune. Yes, he still supported amnesty, but he said he had heard the message that the American people were sending him and that he had been convinced that we needed security first, before we pursued an amnesty. […] McCain has said, again and again, that he no longer supports comprehensive immigration reform. To the contrary, he has been saying that we need security first and then — and only then — could we consider moving forward with an amnesty.
But that’s what he said yesterday, too. “Security first” was always about tactics, not strategy. The idea was that you had to mollify the “They’re violating our laws!” constituency before moving ahead and fixing the whole system.
Indeed, McCain’s campaign said as much to Hawkins in a post-conference call email last month.
As the recent immigration debate demonstrated, Americans have little trust that their government will honor a pledge to do the things necessary to make our border secure. As president, I will honor that pledge by securing the border, thus strengthening our national security. I will also require that, among other things, border-state governors certify that the border is secure before proceeding to other reform measures. However, I also believe that our immigration system must recognize that America will always be that “shining city upon a hill,” a beacon of hope and opportunity for those seeking a better life built on hard work and optimism. Once we achieve border security, we must ensure that we approach our remaining immigration challenges with constructive dialogue and solutions that reflect a compassionate approach and the needs of our economy.
McCain is not feeling his way around on this one. He’s represented a border state in the Senate for 31 years and has been a passionate leader on this issue. Why would anyone think he’d turned 180 degrees in the middle of a presidential run? For that matter, why would they want to trust the leadership of their country to someone who had?
Instead, he took his beating on the issue like a man, announced that he’d learned that he’s not going to get his way without addressing the security issue first, but reiterated that he thinks we need a comprehensive, humanitarian approach to the problem.
Then again, these are the same people who were shocked and angered to find out that George W. Bush, who went around speaking Spanish during his first presidential run and proclaimed that “immigration is not a problem to be solved, but the sign of a successful nation” and that “While he is strongly opposed to illegal immigration, he believes more should be done to welcome legal immigrants” was suddenly a traitor to his country when he sought to actually enact that agenda.