McCain on Immigration

By Maria Sunantha Quibilan/

LOS ANGELES — With the presidential primaries coming to an end soon, the Republican party seems to have one clear frontrunner in Senator John McCain. He has been getting flak within the party for his stand on immigration — his stand being one that restrictionists criticize, according to the website of the nonprofit policy studies center IRC Americas Program.

McCain, who co-sponsored with Sen. Edward Kennedy a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2006, supports “earned legalization” and temporary work programs for illegal immigrants. At the same time, he sees having a secure border as the most effective way to address the country’s immigration problem. Furthermore, he supports an electronic employment verifi cation system to discourage illegal immigration, pointing out that the issue is one that concerns national security.

Below are a few of the points McCain has made on the immigration issue as compiled in the Americas Program online policy report:

General position

“Things are terrible, and we’ve got to fix it. But we’re not going to fi x it until we have comprehensive immigration reform. When there’s a demand, there’s going to be a supply. There are jobs that Americans will not do, so we have to make it possible for someone to come to this country to do a job that an American won’t do and then go back to the country from where they came.”

“The proposal that we had would require fines, would require getting back in the line, would require deportation for some. It would require others to go back to the country of their origin. It would require an enormous amount of time, as long as 13 years, before anyone could even be eligible for citizenship in this country.”

“Our legislation does account for people who are here illegally, it does have an employment verifi cation system, and it weeds out those who shouldn’t be here, and it gives others a chance to remain in this country. Look, this is a national security issue fi rst and foremost. What we have done is come together with the president and the leaders of both parties, and sit down and fi gure out an approach to this problem. It is a serious national security problem. We need to act, and if someone else has a better idea, I’d love to have them give it to us.”

“We’ve been working very hard for a couple of months with Democrats and Republicans, led by the president and his Cabinet, to come up with a comprehensive solution and resolution of this terrible problem of illegal immigration. One thing we would all agree on, the status quo is not acceptable. We have to secure our borders. But we also need a temporary worker program, and we have to dispose of the issue of 12 million people who are in this country illegally. This issue needs to be addressed comprehensively.”

“Amnesty” and legalization

“… we never proposed amnesty. But then you’ve still got two other aspects of this issue that have to be resolved as well. We need to sit down as Americans and recognize these are God’s children as well. And they need some protection under the law; they need some of our love and compassion. I want to assure you that I’ll enforce the borders fi rst.”

“Very seldom have I seen an issue that aroused this much passion with the American people. No one is for amnesty. I and the president came forward with a plan that we thought was comprehensive and workable with the priority being border security, which remains my position. Why we failed is because the American people have lost trust and confidence in us. We have to succeed, because there’s 12 million people who are in this country illegally, which is de facto amnesty, and we need a temporary worker program. I commit to securing the borders first. We can secure those borders. As president, I would have the border state governors certify that those borders were indeed secure.”

“Anything short of rounding up 12 million people and deporting them is called amnesty by the opponents of this legislation … I’ll point out that [illegal immigrants] will have to pay back taxes, they’ll have to pay a fine, they’ll have to go back to their country of origin, and it’s at least 15 years before they are in anyway eligible for citizenship.”

We have to stop the illegal immigration, but we’ve had waves throughout our history. Hispanics is what we’re talking about, a different culture, a different language, which has enriched my state where Spanish was spoken before English was. In Washington DC, go to the Vietnam War Memorial and look at the names engraved in black granite. You’ll find a whole lot of Hispanic names. They must come into the country legally, but they have enriched our culture and our nation as every generation of immigrants before them.”

Guest worker program

“I still believe we have to have a temporary worker program that works and addresses the issues of the 12 million people that are here illegally.”


(For more on the profiles of the immigration stands of Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, visit http://americas.irc-online. org.)

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