DNC - Senator McCain Watch: Immigration- Senator McCain Will Say Anything to Get Elected

Washington, DC-John McCain may be trying to turn the page on the disastrous week he just had, but this week is shaping up to be no better. Today, Senator McCain will walk a tightrope at the National Council of La Raza's annual conference in San Diego. McCain's recent double talk on immigration is proof he will say anything to get elected. That dissonance was on display yesterday on a campaign conference call where one of McCain's advisors touted border security measures in a bill McCain is co-sponsoring with Senator Lindsey Graham. According to the AP, that bill also includes making undocumented status a criminal misdemeanor, something very different from the comprehensive approach the candidate is likely to emphasize at La Raza today. [McCain campaign conference call, 7/13/08; Associated Press, 8/3/07]


2005: McCain Introduced Comprehensive Immigration Reform Legislation With Senator Kennedy. "Millions of undocumented workers in the United States could come out of the shadows by registering with the government and paying fines or fees of at least $2,000 to begin earning permanent residency under the most sweeping immigration-reform bill in two decades. The bill introduced Thursday was dubbed the 'Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act' by its bipartisan group of sponsors, led by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. It would create a temporary-work visa program for foreigners to fill jobs requiring few or no skills, for up to six years. The legislation was touted as ensuring tougher enforcement of laws at the border and in the workplace while speeding the process of reuniting immigrant families. In addition, Mexico and other countries would be encouraged to enter into agreements to play a more active role in helping prevent illegal immigration into the United States, including promoting more economic opportunity back home. House sponsors Jim Kolbe and Jeff Flake, both Arizona Republicans, and Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., joined McCain and Kennedy on Thursday in casting the legislation as a comprehensive approach to immigration reform and national security." [The Arizona Republic, 5/13/05]

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 GOP Presidential Debate, 11/28/07]

2007: McCain Acknowledged His Shift on Immigration Reform During the Republican Primary Campaign. "John McCain spent months earlier this year arguing that the United States must combine border security efforts with a temporary worker program and an eventual path to citizenship for many illegal immigrants. Now, the Republican presidential candidate emphasizes securing the borders first. The rest, he says, is still needed but will have to come later. 'I understand why you would call it a, quote, shift,' McCain told reporters Saturday after voters questioned him on his position during back-to-back appearances in this early voting state. 'I say it is a lesson learned about what the American people's priorities are. And their priority is to secure the borders.' The shift in approach is likely to draw criticism from McCain's GOP opponents. Immigration has been a flash point in the race, with rivals Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson all seizing on it." [Associated Press, 11/3/07]