From the New York Times blogsite – The Caucus

McCain Says Immigration Reform Should Be Top Priority
By Michael Luo

SAN JOSE—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’s willingness to address the issue was striking given how the topic became something of a third-rail for Republican presidential candidates during the primary.

When Mr. McCain’s presidential bid stalled last summer, many blamed his advocacy for the immigration reform bill in the Senate, which included a pathway to citizenship for the illegal immigrants already here in the country.

The measure failed last spring after a firestorm of grassroots opposition. The issue became an important touchstone in the Republican primary, as the candidates scrambled to one-up each other in their tough talk on immigration as they sought to appeal to primary voters.

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.

Since he became the presumptive Republican nominee, Mr. McCain has given major speeches on a broad range of issues but has not given one on immigration.

He found a friendly audience, however, here today at a business roundtable held at a Silicon Valley technology firm that included Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, Meg Whitman, the former chief executive officer of eBay who was a leading supporter of Mitt Romney’s but has since begun raising money for Mr. McCain, and a host of executives from Silicon Valley firms.

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.

“Senator Kennedy and I tried very hard to get immigration reform, a comprehensive plan, through the Congress of the United States,” he said. “It is a federal responsibility and because of our failure as a federal obligation, we’re seeing all these various conflicts and problems throughout our nation as different towns, cities, counties, whatever they are, implement different policies and different programs which makes things even worse and even more confusing.”

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.”

Mr. McCain asked others on the panels for suggestions about how to “better mobilize American public opinion” behind the notion of comprehensive immigration reform.

Mr. Schwarzenegger, a strong supporter of immigration reform, chimed in, saying the effort could not be accomplished “piecemeal” and called for lawmakers to summon the “courage to go forward.”
“I think all of us have to keep that pressure on Congress,” he said.

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.

39 Thoughts to “McCain – “Immigration Reform Should be Top Priority””

  1. Mando

    Secure the border first. Period.

  2. I really like McCain’s approach to immigration. It’s one of his attractions politically and humanely. That said, Bush has been pretty good in this are too. It’s Congress that’s been stalling with all the party bickering and giving into less-than-credible lobbying efforts from organizations like FAIR.

  3. McCain or Obama or Clinton or even Ron Paul, any legislation about immigration is going to be based on politics and not on what’s best for the country. So if the next administration does decide to make the issue a priority,don’t expect too much.

  4. As I have said many times, John McCain is the savior of the Republican party.

    Somehow he knew, long before the rest of us did, that anti-immigrant hate mongering could no longer carry the day in 21st century America. He just had too much integrity to pull a “Mitt Romney” and bleat out another flip-flopper line: “I pledge to hate immigrants if you vote for me.”

    John McCain bet on the American people. He was prepared to lose the nomination if he was wrong about the compassionate Christian values of the majority of our voters. Of course he was right, and F.A.I.R. and the other hate groups have been retreating ever since New Hampshire.

    Historians will look back at 2007 as a desperate time in Civil Rights history. The F.A.I.R. lobbying network (disguised as “grassroots opposition”) had ambushed the nation and we hardly knew what hit us. Courage was called for, and who better to provide it than a man steeped in the past but wise enough to see the future?

  5. Rick Bentley

    Hopefully this costs McCain his meager shot at the election. It’s a reason I will NEVER vote for him – in a contest between Adolph Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin, and McCain I would abstain. I truly loath his position, as well as Obama’s as stated in his book (illegal immigration is bad in lots of ways, but we should give up and embrace it – the Politics of Hope my a**) and will maintyain a jaundiced view of both political parties for the rest of my life. When my community was falling down around me, neither party orhtidoxy cared one bit.

  6. Well, Rick, I think you might be out of luck this election.

    Why not focus on neighborhood improvements, then, via direct serve instead of useless policy and politics? You might be already, but in case you aren’t…..

    Political parties are no good in my opinion. They distract people from issues and solutions and get people to focus on…I don’t know what. Stupid gossip?

  7. Loudoun

    If amnesty were an option that the American people would accept – it would have happened by now. 80% of the American people do not want amnestay. McCain renounced his amnesty plan until he had the Republication nomination. Now he is pandering for the Latino vote by courting La Raza and other anti-American hate groups.

    Just because the SPLC and the ADL has branded F.A.I.R. a hate group doesn’t mean they are a hate group. It means that those right-wing groups don’t like that F.A.I.R. is calling for reduced immigration. We only have so much land and limited natural resources – our country cannot handle the influx of millions of illegal immigrants.

    McCain is the destroyer of the Republican party.

  8. Emma

    Loudoun, I agree wholeheartedly that this is nothing but pandering. McCain is going to be in the fight of his life once Obama gets the nomination. I don’t trust any of it. I find this passage the most chilling:

    Mr. McCain asked others on the panels for suggestions about how to “better mobilize American public opinion” behind the notion of comprehensive immigration reform.

    He’s going to “better mobilize” the will of the electorate? I would love to hear him spell out exactly what that means.

  9. admin

    Here’s are my thoughts on the matter. FAIR has been working on their agenda for 20 years. I never paid attention to the matter of immigration reform. I took it for granted, millions had done it through atleast a half dozen amnesties/mini-amnesties and I thought it was semantics and that it would work itself out. What we are witnessing now with resolutions etc… It has mobilized a lot of people, myself included, to take action to make sure our voices are heard as well. We can no longer afford to just continue about our day and believe that it will just work itself out. The anti-immigrant/illegals propoganda spin are outright lies, after listening to the news today with Scott McClellan’s book, I’m starting to wonder what in the heck is going on with the Republicans.

  10. Marie

    Loudoun, Emma and Rick,
    Guess you better get ready because immigration reform will come and it will come within year or two. Whomever gets elected is going to do something irregardless of who it is.

  11. Censored bybvbl

    I got the impression that the majority of people wanted some form of immigration reform. The demonstrations in California (?) where many protestors carried the Mexican flag seemed to mark the point where the anti-immigration groups became more vocal. I could never tell from the MSM’s coverage of those demonstrations whether the people flying the Mexican flags were a small minority who were captured on camera and had the footage replayed on the news ad infinitum (supported by Lou Dobbs coverage…also ad infinitum) or whether the group was, indeed, larger.

    The people are here and working so I think it’s best that they be given visas or a path to citizenship and be accounted for. We aren’t going to deport them all. That may be a right-wing Republican’s dream but it’s not going to happen.

    I think a lot of Americans are sick of our elections being an excuse to hate some faction of our population…gays, immigrants, those who favor keeping abortion legal, etc. It’s good to see all three candidates taking a higher road.

  12. I find the F.A.I.R. extremists a much bigger threat than the neoCons ever were (McClellan’s former pals in the White House). The neoCons are a bigger threat to the nation as a whole, to our democracy, and to the world, but they weren’t so bad for the GOP. They won in 2002 and 2004 on a neoCon agenda with a sprinkling of gay bashing.

    It was the failure of the neoCons in Iraq and New Orleans that opened the door fore the F.A.I.R. extremists. When it looked like the Anti-Immigrant Lobby was taking control of the G.O.P., most of the true Conservatives have either left the party, left politics, or turned their interests to other things. This gave even more hope to the F.A.I.R. extremists…. But then there was McCain. Unlike Tom Davis and the other Republicans who found the F.A.I.R. extremists revolting, John McCain refused to quit, and despite his age, is trying to hold the party together.

    McClellan is being criticized for not speaking out when it mattered. If the Iraq fiasco can be compared to the F.A.I.R. fiasco within the Republican party, then right now we are at the same stage where McClellan failed.

    McCain is so valuable to the party because:

    (1) he always saw the lunacy of the Anti-immigrant Lobby’s agenda (essentially setting America at war against itself). Not only bad for the country, bad politics!

    (2) He fought for and won the nomination on principles that defied the Anti-immigrant Lobby during its hey day, when it seemed unstoppable. And yet, McCain stood tall, inside the belly of the beast and said no to hate. That takes courage.

    (3) Having won the nomination, he symbolizes the beginning of the end of F.A.I.R. extremists and the entire Anti-Immigrant Lobby. They will never again rear their ugly ignorant heads to embarrass the party and divide the nation. It is all but a foregone conclusion. Like the Segregationists and the Know Nothings, the Anti-Immigrant Lobby will be forced to form a third party, because in the party of McCain and Reagan, there are no buyers for anti-immigrant hate.

  13. Juturna

    I think whoever gets elected is going to only be there for four years regardless of who wins. I have decided that I am going to vote for the person most detested by the moral religious zealot right. Republicans must break the stranghold these folks have on their party to suceed. They took a big step when Huckabee did not get their attention. Ariana Huffington wrote a great article about the Republicans and how they did not know how to handle the moral zealots once they had one in their midst….. Looks like that worked out fine – let’s hope that continues. Don’t get me wrong, I have very deep rooted convictions about certain issues – one of them being that legislating morality is not a core mission of government

    Immigration has infiltrated our economic system which is in great decline. For that reason alone, it will and should be a major issue among candidates. So should the environment because thankfully and finally that too has become an economic issue..

    Organizations like FAIR and SPLC have a valid role in our society. Both are extreme but both are simply watchdogs. It’s blind belief in either that causes the problem. It is not the organization that does the damage it’s us for letting either into our lives and making our decisions for us. I would not want to live in country that did not ‘allow’ organizations like this and the ACLU to exist.

  14. admin

    My fear is that Huckabee could end up a VP candidate. What I didn’t like about him was his desperation to abandon his previous principles and sign a contract with the MinuteMen. Yikes! But McCain is going to need the ‘religious right’ to win and with Huckabee being a Baptist minister it might be a strategical move to bring him onto the ticket.

  15. admin

    Also, my concern is how some might react. Of course, a lot of people mentioned leaving the country is Bush was re-elected but how many actually took action? Just wondering …

  16. Emma

    Marie, I agree immigration reform is a given, and that it is necessary. But if I recall correctly, McCain previously was suggesting a blanket amnesty, which I do NOT agree with. Consider that his audience consisted of business leaders in Silicon Valley who have everything to gain from the immigration of foreign scientists and engineers on H1B visas, workers who are willing to take significantly lower wages than American tech workers. He was pandering to his audience. I only hope we don’t have too much more damage after four years, until someone better–and electable–steps up to the plate.

  17. Moon-howler

    I am with Juturna. I am willing to vote for the candidate who pisses the religious right off the most. In fact, I used to have a pin that said, ‘just doing my part to piss off the religious right.’ Fine sentiment!

    I also wouldn’t mind pissing off the Reverend Wright supporters either. That is just ugly ugly talk. I don’t accept that out of anyone.

    If McCain needs the religious right, Obama will need the Hillary supporters. It could be a very interesting election.

    Who else do the Republicans have to vote for? Obama? Hillary? I don’t think so. Stay home? I doubt that either.

    Oh Rick, why don’t you like McCain? You have him right up there with the anti-Christ. I have never gotten the idea he wanted amnesty for everyone here, but he wanted a way to allow those who wanted to be American citizens a way to stay. Fines to me are not amnesty.

  18. Moon-howler, What has McCain done to deserve the wrath of the Religions Right? So he criticized some religious leaders who made some outlandish statements. All of them had either said something really, really dumb, or said something highly political, or both. When you do those things, you should accept the fact there will be some criticism.

  19. Rick Bentley

    McCain and Obama are nice likeable people both of whom have positions that would make them terrible Presidents.

    How many of you have ever considered that we could have someone even worse than the current buffoon in office? McCain, a cranky grouchy 70-year old who altreadyb refuses to admit reality in Iraq and bawls out reporters who dare to contradict him, may be just the guy to do worse. Nor do I have any faith in Obama who is already on record telling the Government of Canada that his flowery speeches are one thing and his future agenda another unrelated matter entirely.

  20. elvis

    mccain does not have a chance, Elvis’ predictions: Obama get’s the democrat ticket with Hillary in tow for VP. I would much rather have other candidates but honestly I think Obama is the one who actually had “a plan”, the others talk about “a plan” but nothing really concrete that has not been mentioned before. I’ll vote for Mccain since he’s republican and I like the guy however I dont think he’ll win, he doesnt have a snowballs chance in hell.

  21. Polls show him even or close to even with Obama nationally, and in a dead heat in several key states.

  22. Every sensible person in PWC … Democrat, Republican, or Independent … knows how hard it is to stand up to hateful people who will target YOU for hate if you question their dogma. It took most of us more than half a year to even make a peep!

    Whether McCain wins or loses, he will have served the United States better than any other Republican in the past 8 years, better than every American including Obama… simply by standing up to F.A.I.R. and the Anti-Immigrant mob.

    It was McCain more than any other American who was responsible for stopping the mob before they turned the whole nation into Prince William County. If Obama had tried he would have made matters worse. It had to be a Republican, and it had to be a Republican with courage.

  23. Elena

    Can you please share more about how SPLC is the opposite of extreme from FAIR? I can’t seem to get past FAIR being about targeting one group of minorities, having connections to white supremicst groups, and advocating population reduction as a major tenent of their group. How is the SPLC the opposite “extreme” group of FAIR?

    “Organizations like FAIR and SPLC have a valid role in our society. Both are extreme but both are simply watchdogs. It’s blind belief in either that causes the problem. It is not the organization that does the damage it’s us for letting either into our lives and making our decisions for us. I would not want to live in country that did not ‘allow’ organizations like this and the ACLU to exist.”

  24. Elena

    Wow Rick,
    You would rather vote for mass murderers than a man who spent five years as a prisoner of war, who had an opportunity to get of the Hanoi Hilton, but refusing any special treatment, chose to stay to be tortured? Really, are you that hate infused? Now THAT says alot about you Rick.

  25. WhyHereWhyNow

    Elena, if I may say, the comment you quoted is a pedestrian attempt at parroting Anti-Immigrant Lobby spin. It’s a lot like F.A.I.R. saying the two extremes on Immigration policy are The Statue of Liberty and the KKK.

    Of course, the Statue of Liberty is held in higher regard by most Americans than the KKK. But if a few impressionable and/or devotedly partisan readers are manipulated into thinking the Statue of Liberty is a little bit closer to the fringe, and the KKK is a little closer to the middle of the road, they’ve succeeded in making their destructive, hateful, and utterly impossible positions on immigration a step closer to mainstream.

  26. Elena

    WhyHereWhyNow, 1. June 2008, 1:12

    I would really like to hear more from Juturna on this. I don’t see Juturna as “parroting Anti-Immigrant Lobby spin”. I think that sometimes we so want to be the “common sense” in the middle, that it is possible to forget that not every group can be polarized to an extreme. Your example of the Statue of Liberty and KKK is what I am trying to get to I guess .

    The ADL has taken the same position regarding growing hate towards latino’s, but yet, the SPLC has been seen as being “extreme”. I would say the SPLC and ADL are the opposite to FAIR, in that they promote tolerance and understanding, but I am not sure I see them as being equally in need of distancing oneself from them or viewing them with suspicion as I would FAIR. In the civil rights movement you had the KKK and Martin Luther King. Would it be the same analogy to say you should not align yourself with Martin Luther King because he was the opposite of the KKK?

  27. Rick Bentley

    Elena I didn’t say I would vote for the mass murderers. I said that I would abstain from voting in that case.

    None of them will/would create a better America.

  28. WhyHereWhyNow

    Rick Bentley said: “Adolph Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin, and McCain I would abstain.”

    What if McCain takes an Anti-immigrant V.P., or at least someone who during the Primary talked like one? There has to be SOME way to lift McCain above the likes of Hitler in the eyes of F.A.I.R. Weather Fanatics.

  29. WhyHereWhyNow

    Martin Luther King and the Statue of Liberty are American traditions, and symbols of all that is great in this country. The KKK are indeed the opposite. But to say that they are equally outside the mainstream of American society is an insult to our country and to our intelligence. Speaking of the Southern Poverty Law Center and F.A.I.R. in similar terms is a similar ruse, no less transparent.

    F.A.I.R. should put it on their web site if it is not there already, because their customers are suggestible to buy it. Luckily, this is a small portion of the electorate, enough to send a lot of emails, but not enough to remake the country, its values, or its racial breakdown.

  30. WhyHereWhyNow

    ** suggestible ENOUGH to buy it

  31. Elena

    Yes, I see that you would abstain, do you think that makes your sentiment less vile to me? Not likely. To put John McCain in the same sentence, as though they all invoke the same response from you, makes no difference to me. Your point is clear. YOU see no difference between Hitler and John McCain…….shame on you Rick Bentley.

  32. Rick Bentley

    So if you had to choose between Hitler and let’s say Lyndon LaRouche for President you’d happily cast your vote?

    McCain is bent on RUINING America. Amnesty again equals the end of sovereignty.

    Neither political party represents me or gives a damn what happens to me or to most Americans. Neither party cares to try to enforce current laws or to make rich people play by the same rules as the rest of us. To hell with both of them.

  33. Not Me, Bubba

    “As I have said many times, John McCain is the savior of the Republican party. ”


    More amusing humor today from this blog. Yep – the candidate who’s slogan is “Bush’s 3rd term” sure is one who can be counted on to “save” that party. Oh the humor is too much this morning! I’m sure he is quite appealing to that 27% approval base that still thinks Bush is “Gawd’s gift to Amerikuh….”


  34. Not Me, Bubba

    “Yikes! But McCain is going to need the ‘religious right’ to win and with Huckabee being a Baptist minister it might be a strategical move to bring him onto the ticket.”

    From your keyboard to a higher power’s eyes… Huckabee as his VP candidate would seal their coffin shut. I hope it is so! Yeah – another 4 years of bible-thumpuing, anti-science religious dogma controlling our government. Sounds like a recipe for success to me! While we’re at it, let’s bring Ashcroft back… I hear he transcends dead politicians.


  35. Not Me, Bubba

    “Whether McCain wins or loses, he will have served the United States better than any other Republican in the past 8 years”

    Yeah, because the bar was set SO HIGH….


  36. Not Me, Bubba

    “Neither political party represents me or gives a damn what happens to me or to most Americans. Neither party cares to try to enforce current laws or to make rich people play by the same rules as the rest of us. To hell with both of them.”

    Here Here, RICK! Well stated! It’s all voting for special interest groups…the special interests pick the candidates, fund them and trot them out come voting day. I’ll second nearly all of what you’ve said.

  37. I’m not sure what perspective Rick and Bubba are coming from. I’m guessing Tom Tancredo was your candidate? Forgive me if I’m wrong, I’m just guessing.

    McCain is, simply, a centrist. In my view, Anti-Immigrant candidates are extremists, and the Republican party of Virginia is right now battling to stay relevant. The only way to do that is to appoint centrists to key positions, but this is not happening unfortunately. Thus, the Virginia GOP is in a lot of trouble.

    But on the national level, there are still some legitimate issues that centrist Republicans can run on. Thankfully, the extremist candidates did not win the nomination. If McCain can bring the party to the center, the party will continue to compete. If not, it will decline until it learns the hard way.

  38. Rick Bentley

    Tancredo, Hunter, Romney were the only candidates I considered voting for. Most of the candidates put up by both parties are in the bag for big business and have no integrity on the illegal immigration issue or any other issue.

    Lou Dobbs for President.

  39. Not Me, Bubba

    “Tancredo, Hunter, Romney were the only candidates I considered voting for. ”


    Edwards, Gravel or Biden. But really a toss up between Gravel and Edwards.

    “I’m not sure what perspective Rick and Bubba are coming from. ”

    The perspective that I can see through McCain’s BS and know he is NO centrist on any issue. He wants to continue on with Bush’s abyssmal policies. Just what we need – 4 more years of dumbphookery in the WH. I’m sure it would be amusing to see this country spiral even further down the hole, but some of us actually happen to care about where we live…

    And as for someone’s comments above about McCain being Mr. Brave Soldier in Vietnam – apparantly he liked his torture SO MUCH he agreed with Bush and the rest of his cronies Americans should employ it as an interrogation technique too. Yeah – that’s the kind of “man” I want in office. Let’s replace the corrupt drunk, with a shell-shocked pandering old fart. Brilliant!

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