McCain Is the Amnesty Candidate

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

Sen. McCain took 37 percent of the New Hampshire Republican primary votes Tuesday, winning that state’s contest.  Mitt Romney finished six points back, at 31 percent, in second place.  McCain had shown poorly in Iowa.  He tied for third place with Fred Thompson, each with just 13 percent.  Romney finished second in Iowa, with 25 percent, while Mike Huckabee won 34 percent. 

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.

McCain publicly embraced amnesty for years before it caused him to get his political head handed to him. “Amnesty has to be an important part because there are people who have lived in this country for 20, 30 or 40 years, who have raised children here and pay taxes here and are not citizens. That has to be a component of it,” he told a Tucson newspaper in 2003. “I think we can set up a program where amnesty is extended to a certain number of people who are eligible and at the same time make sure that we have some control over people who come in and out of this country…”

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.

He tried his “spin” at the YouTube debate: “ . . . [W]e never proposed amnesty.” He dissembled again in New Hampshire at Sunday’s debate: “I have never, ever supported amnesty and never will.”

McCain sets up a straw-man argument about either deport them all or legalize them all as the only two alternatives.

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.”

In June, he told a Miami audience, “The most difficult problem is what to do about the twelve million or more undocumented workers who live and work here now. No critic of our bill has offered a serious proposal to round up all these millions, many of whom have children born in this country, and ship them back to their countries of origin. There is simply no practical way to do that, and most Americans understand that …”

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.”

All this is merely process — stuff and personnel — not results. Instead of building some fencing and hiring some agents, why not set goals of reducing illegal entry to a trickle? Or reducing the illegal population in four years by 75 percent through both removals and enforcement-driven attrition?

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.

McCain’s bill allowed amnestees to renew a 4-year Z visa if they merely “attempt to gain an understanding of the English language.” That means “taking” (not passing) the naturalization test (whose standards of English acquisition are woefully inadequate). It also accepted getting “on a waiting list for English classes” (not taking or passing the course). Bottom line, amnestied aliens would remain deficient in English.

What about paying a “very heavy price?” McCain’s bill imposed just $1,000 as the penalty. There were up to $2,000 in various fees, but hardly enough to be regarded as much of a fine. Plus, the $1,000 didn’t have to be paid until after the meaningless “triggers” took effect. S. 1348 didn’t require payment of any back taxes; its last-ditch revision, S. 1639, added a tax requirement for getting a green card.

McCain rejects an attrition-through-enforcement strategy. He ultimately wants both mass legalization of illegal aliens and increases in legal immigration. He’d agree to deporting a couple million criminal aliens, but insists on letting the rest of the illegal population stay on.

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.’”

The Atlanta newspaper quoted Thompson’s reasonable enforcement approach: “They set up a false choice — either we get giant busloads of people tomorrow, and round them all up, or we have to grant amnesty. Attrition by enforcement is what makes the most sense.”

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.”

The Washington Post, as the Senate debated McCain’s amnesty bill last summer, reported: “Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney advocated a policy of attrition to deal with the more than 12 million immigrants who are in the United States illegally, insisting that they can be slowly repatriated simply by enforcing current law or changing provisions of a controversial bipartisan plan pending in the Senate.”

Any American who cares about immigration issues, who opposes amnesty, who favors common sense over appeasement of foreign lawbreakers should not consider McCain an ally.