This past week, McCain has taken lumps from the other presidential hopefuls in supporting a bill that tries to address the immigration problem in the US. McCain rightfully has said that we need to get beyond this issue, and move toward substantive debate over the ineffectiveness of government. Opponents of the bill call the fines and path to citizenship components "amnesty", and ignore the strengthening of the border provisions in McCain-Kennedy.
This is the second time that the base has sounded shrill to the ear in as many months. In the last debate, McCain was the only voice of reason when it comes to torture. The rest of the field ranged from blood lust to summoning Jack Bauer. Recall that the only candidate with some experience in the matter is McCain, who has been on the business end of a captor's torture.
Now, McCain, who lives on a border state, has tried to reach a compromise, and the base is screaming "amnesty". Their alternative? Nothing. There is nothing out there that can get the majority of votes out of Congress. Trying to arrest 12 million people and force an exodus out of the border will go down as the next "trail of tears". How is the inaction proposed by the base better than some action, some direction?
McCain is right, that the future of the party hinges on outreach to issues beyond the WASP's and the Skull and Bones crowd. Bush accurately identified the Latino vote as conservative, and we should be courting that vote, the now largest minority group, into the public sphere and out of the shadows. Hispanics are traditionally pro-family, pro-life, for small businesses and small government. Why we would attempt to disenfranchise Latinos is beyond me. McCain might end up sacrificing his political capital on this issue, but it seems worth it for the future of the party and more important, the future of the country.
If another session of Congress passes without any sort of action, that inaction will benefit only the illegal immigrants. The public will be enraged. The Latino community will continue to galvanize against the Republicans. The problems associated with displaced and disenfranchised people will continue in the border states. We need a direction, a course. McCain-Kennedy does not give blanket amnesty, but a chance to come out of the shadows or be deported. It builds border fences and secures the southern border, where the majority of illegals enter.
The current republican alternative is hardly conservative, yet like the torture issue, is full of blood lust.
Susan Estrich points out in her foxnews.com column "That [proposal] suggests that we break up families in which the parents are undocumented and the children are citizens, deporting the parents and leaving the children homeless[.] That we tell those who were brought here as children and have lived here their entire lives that they are about to be shipped out to countries which are as foreign to them as they would be to you and me? And what about the 5 million would-be immigrants who have applied to reunite with their families, some of whom have waited 20 years or more to be with loved ones. The bill aims to clear that backlog within five years. Is there something wrong with that too?"
I have to agree, I fail to see the conservative principals of pro-family at work, when we threaten gestapo-like proposals to break up families. McCain-Kennedy refuses to go that far, and for that, deserves a chance. I would rather have 12 million new voters that are sympathetic to our cause, than 12 million exiles who will be back in the US, illegally, in 6 months after banishment.