DNC - McCain's Closed Town Hall Meeting With Latinos Raises Questions

Late Night Gathering Raises Questions, Where Does McCain Stand on Latino Issues?

Washington, DC - John McCain held a town hall meeting with Latinos in Chicago, Illinois last night, but unlike all of his other town hall meetings, this one took place behind closed doors. One hundred pre-screened Latinos were bused in to Chicago for the meeting, but community leaders like Eluid Medina, who heads a neighborhood networking group, were kept out according to a news report. Medina told Diario Hoy that a conversation on the challenges Latinos face, "can't be partisan, the problems affect us all as a community and the meeting should have been open." [Diario Hoy, 6/19/08]

McCain's closed-door town hall meeting with a pre-screened audience comes as recent polls show John McCain has a problem with Latino voters. A recent NBC/WSJ poll "showed Hispanics breaking for Obama 62%-28%" and "a new survey of 800 Latino voters from 21 states finds that 60% of them plan to vote for Obama versus 23% for McCain." [MSNBC First Read, 6/17/08]

Thus, even in a pre-screened audience, McCain could not avoid tough questions. According to Hoy, Republican Precinct Committeeman Abraham Romero, who was invited to attend, said he hoped to ask Senator McCain what his plans are for undocumented immigrants. [Diario Hoy, 6/19/08] In recent weeks McCain has tried to have it both ways on immigration reform, declaring his belief in the need for comprehensive immigration reform to court Latino voters, but often in the same sentence appeasing conservative anti-immigrants by saying he'll pursue an enforcement-first approach, very different from comprehensive reform. [nytimes.com, 5/22/08; Stockton Record, 5/25/08]

"After countless public town hall meetings with a variety of voters," asked DNC spokesman Luis Miranda, "why is John McCain holding a town hall meeting with Latinos late at night, behind closed doors, and only with a pre-screened audience? Latinos and all Americans deserve real answers on where John McCain really stands. He can't both support comprehensive reform and enforcement-only, he can't promise change while offering a third Bush term on everything from Iraq to the economy, and he can't expect Latino voters to trust him while he'll only address their issues in private."


2006: McCain Championed The McCain-Kennedy Earned Legalization Immigration Bill.  McCain campaigned for the McCain-Kennedy bill which was described as "the most generous of the bills now before Congress." The legislation "would legalize as many as 11 million undocumented immigrants" and "grant temporary work permits to illegal immigrants and then after waiting six years and paying a $2,000 fine, it would enable them to apply for green cards."  [Miami Herald, 2/24/06]

2008: McCain Said He Would Oppose the Legislation He Authored With Kennedy. Asked whether he would vote for the immigration legislation he previously sponsored, McCain eventually replied, "No, I would not." [CNN GOP Presidential Debate, 1/30/08]

2006: McCain Said an "Enforcement First" Strategy Focusing Only on Border Security is an "Ineffective And Ill-Advised Approach." "In April [2006], the Senate overwhelmingly passed, in a bipartisan fashion, a comprehensive immigration reform package designed to secure our borders as well as address the economic need for workers in our Nation. In passing this legislation, the Senate rejected the argument for an 'enforcement first' strategy that focuses on border security only, an ineffective and ill-advised approach. Congress cannot take a piecemeal approach to a national security crisis. I believe the only way to truly secure our border and protect our Nation is through the enactment of comprehensive immigration reform. As long as there is a need for workers in the United States and people are willing to cross the desert to make a better life for their families, our border will never be secure." [McCain, Congressional Record, 9/29/06]

2007: Presidential Candidate McCain Touts Securing The Border First.  In 2008, McCain said, "And our proposal has got to be securing the borders first. The American people have no trust or confidence in us that we would secure the borders."  In November 2007, McCain argued, "I want to assure you that I'll enforce the borders first." [CNN Larry King Live, 2/14/08; CNN/YouTube Republican Presidential Debate, 11/28/07]
2008: Trying to Have it Both Ways, McCain Calls For Comprehensive Immigration Reform AND Enforcement First Approach. In California at "a roundtable with business leaders" McCain said "that comprehensive immigration reform should be a top priority for the next president." [nytimes.com, 5/22/08] But McCain is also campaigning on an enforcement first approach, very different from comprehensive reform. "I believe we have to secure our borders, and that our border need to be secured first," McCain told an audience in Stockton, California. In that same speech he claimed to "believe that we need a comprehensive approach...After the borders are secured, and the border state governors - including the governor of this state - certify that the borders are secure..." [Stockton Record, 5/25/08]


2003 & 2005 & 2007: McCain Co-Sponsored The DREAM Act. McCain co-sponsored versions of the DREAM Act in 2003, 2005, and early 2007. [S 1545, introduced 7/31/03; S 2075, introduced 11/21/05; S 774, introduced 3/6/07]

NOW in 2007: McCain Skipped Vote On DREAM Act But Said He Would Have Voted Against Bill That He Co-Sponsored. "Last week, McCain skipped a Senate vote on immigration legislation called the DREAM Act - Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors. He then said he would have voted against the bill, even though he was a co-sponsor." [Myrtle Beach Sun-News, 11/2/07]