The McCain Campaign Answers A Question On Comprehensive Illegal Immigration — Sort Of

Last week, after a teleconference with John McCain, I wrote that I was asking the campaign the following question and would post their answer to RWN,

Mr. McCain, let me read something you were quoted as saying a few days ago,

“We get in this kind of a circular firing squad on immigration reform in the Congress of the United States and the lesson I learned from it is we’ve got to have comprehensive immigration reform.”

Now, you’ve been saying for months that you learned your lesson and that we need security first, not a comprehensive immigration bill. That doesn’t seem to gibe with that quote. So, could you elaborate a bit?

Well, after harassing them multiple times to get an answer they finally sent me this,

This is what I have for you:

Border Security and Immigration Reform

I have always believed that our border must be secure and that the federal government has utterly failed in its responsibility to ensure that it is secure. If we have learned anything from the recent immigration debate, it is that Americans have little trust that their government will honor a pledge to do the things necessary to make the border secure.

As president, I will secure the border. I will restore the trust Americans should have in the basic competency of their government. A secure border is an essential element of our national security. Tight border security includes not just the entry and exit of people, but also the effective screening of cargo at our ports and other points of entry.

But a secure border will contribute to addressing our immigration problem most effectively if we also:

Recognize the importance of building strong allies in Mexico and Latin America who reject the siren call of authoritarians like Hugo Chavez, support freedom and democracy, and seek strong domestic economies with abundant economic opportunities for their citizens.

Recognize the importance of pro-growth policies — keeping government spending in check, holding down taxes, and cutting unnecessary regulatory burdens — so American businesses can hire and pay the best.

Recognize the importance of a flexible labor market to keep employers in business and our economy on top. It should provide skilled Americans and immigrants with opportunity. Our education system should ensure skills for our younger workers, and our retraining and assistance programs for displaced workers must be modernized so they can pursue those opportunities

Recognize the importance of assimilation of our immigrant population, which includes learning English, American history and civics, and respecting the values of a democratic society.

Recognize that America will always be that “shining city upon a hill,” a beacon of hope and opportunity for those seeking a better life built on hard work and optimism.

Border security and our failed immigration system are more examples of an ailing Washington culture in need of reform to regain the trust of Americans. In too many areas — from immigration and pork barrel spending to Social Security, health care, energy security and tax relief — business-as-usual politics prevents addressing the important challenges facing our nation

As you’ll notice, that doesn’t answer the question I put to the campaign, which of course, led to yet another polite but firm email from me that mentioned the words “straight talk” in a sarcastic manner, but didn’t really produce any further answers.

So, what’s really going on?

Well, after McCain made his statement about comprehensive illegal immigration, which seemed to contradict his current “security first” position, the campaign did not issue any press releases on it or answer any questions about it. Additionally, when McCain was asked about illegal immigration after that point — and he has been, several times — he went back to his “security first” position.

What that leads me to believe is that McCain just screwed up, slipped into his old comprehensive illegal immigration rhetoric, and then, because the issue is so radioactive for him, decided he would be better off just leaving it alone rather than trying to explain it.

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