McCain Is the Amnesty Candidate

James R. Edwards Jr., Human Events, January 10, 2008

It’s amazing how soon people forgot that John McCain is as bad as Teddy Kennedy on immigration.

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Take a quick trip down memory lane. Less than a year ago, Sen. McCain was one of the leaders crafting a “comprehensive” mass amnesty bill behind closed doors. He, along with Kennedy, Obama and Clinton, blocked every attempt to amend the bill with any measures to decrease the damage it would have done.

His pro-amnesty stance nearly tanked his presidential candidacy last summer and dried up his fundraising. And despite his denials, Sen. McCain has spoken openly in favor of amnesty repeatedly. And his position—even after last summer—still favors mass amnesty for virtually every illegal alien who is already in this country, as many as a 12–15 million of them.

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At the time of the 2006 debate of the Senate amnesty bill, McCain told a rally that illegal aliens have “grasped the lowest rung of our ladder. They want to rise, and we should let them. Let them come out of the shadows, pay a fine, stay employed, pay taxes, and earn their citizenship.”

Now, he says he’ll go along with some undefined border security measures, attempting to redefine words. But ultimately, he insists on radical legalization of most illegals.

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On May 30, McCain told FOX’s Bill O’Reilly, “You’ve got two choices here, Bill. You either round up and deport 12 million people and I know of no one who thinks that’s a good idea or practicable. Or you make sure that you do everything possible to make sure that they pay a very heavy price for having acted illegally and breaking our laws.”

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Now, scrambling back, McCain says, “There are about 2 million people here illegally who have committed crimes; those people should be deported immediately. We can’t round up the other 10 million people and deport them all at once, so you are going to have to go step by step.” By “step by step,” he means legalize the vast majority of illegals, but start with some lame “enforcement” and kick out criminal aliens.

McCain remains coy on what enforcement measures he’d support. Judging by his bill, a few more border guards, some border fencing and a “virtual fence,” but little else. He told Vanity Fair, “I’ll build the goddamned fence if they want it.” Reuters quoted him at a recent New Hampshire meeting that he means by border security “walls in urban areas, through vehicle barriers, with cameras and sensors.”

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By any reasonable definition, McCain’s recipe constitutes amnesty. It allows nearly all illegal aliens to remain permanently in America. It lets them obtain a permanent resident visa and naturalize five years later. It rewards them with the job they came and stole, taxpayer-funded benefits and programs, tax credits, welfare and Social Security. It allows them to sponsor distant relatives and start their own migration chains.

The Senate bill, S. 1348, by McCain, Kennedy and Harry Reid included many loopholes and perpetually renewable Z visas for illegal aliens. The “background check” on an illegal had to be done in one business day, or else the government had to issue the amnesty visa. Flimsy “evidence” like a buddy’s “affidavit” would satisfy McCain in order to qualify someone for a Z visa. His bill gave illegals in-state tuition.

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In short, McCain has one of the worst grades of any Republican Senator concerning immigration. His overall career and recent Americans for Better Immigration grades are both Ds. On amnesty, he earns F. His congressional record on immigration ABI calls “abysmal.”

To build an immigration record that’s worse than Huckabee’s and even Giuliani’s takes some doing, but that’s what McCain has done. McCain’s record is more in line with Democrat candidates.

By contrast, Fred Thompson flat-out promises to veto any amnesty bill. At the YouTube debate, he said, “Yes. I will pledge that.” He then got specific on what enforcement means to him: “We’ve go to strengthen the border, we’ve got to enforce the border, we’ve got to punish the employers who will not obey the law, and we’ve go to eliminate sanctuary cities and say to sanctuary cities, ‘If you continue this, we’re going to cut off federal funding for you. You’re not going to do it with federal money.’”

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Mitt Romney rejects amnesty, as well. His platform states, “Governor Romney opposes amnesty or any special path to citizenship for those here illegally. He opposed each version of the McCain-Kennedy legislation as the wrong approach and a form of amnesty. Amnesty did not work 20 years ago, and it will not work today.”

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