Sen. McCain and illegal immigration

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As we’ve noted in these pages, there is indeed much to admire about Sen. John McCain, ranging from his courage as a POW to his extraordinary leadership in pushing for the troop “surge” in Iraq. But this has not been the case with his disingenuous blustering on illegal immigration — particularly when his cosponsorship of mass-amnesty legislation with Sen. Edward Kennedy is raised. The Arizona Republican now says that, in the wake of last summer’s defeat of “comprehensive immigration reform,” he has “gotten the message” that the border must be secured before the status of illegals already in the United States can be dealt with.

That’s fair enough. But it doesn’t give Mr. McCain the right to shut people up when they ask legitimate questions about his immigration record — which includes cosponsoring legislation to permit illegal aliens to pay lower in-state tuition rates denied to some students that are in the country legally, supporting Social Security benefits for illegals and voting against an amendment last year that would have permanently barred gang members, terrorists and other criminals from the United States.

In a Jan. 5 debate, Mr. McCain declared that anyone who says he supported amnesty is “a liar, is lying.” Several days before he won the New Hampshire primary, Mr. McCain was asked by a voter about criticism of his record. The senator replied: “I do not support, nor would I ever support, any services provided to someone who came to this country illegally, nor would I ever and [I] never have supported Social Security benefits for people who are in this country illegally.” Any assertion to the contrary, he added “is absolutely false.”

To be certain, there are some bright spots to Mr. McCain’s immigration record. Last year, for example, he voted to permit the sharing of information contained in amnesty applications if requested by a law enforcement or intelligence agency and voted to make it more difficult for illegals to benefit from sanctuary-city policies. But time and again, he has sided with the pro-amnesty, open-borders crowd. Following is a partial listing of some of Mr. McCain’s troubling actions on illegal immigration:

Supporting mass amnesty. The May 29, 2003, Tucson Citizen quoted Mr. McCain as stating that “Amnesty has to be an important part of” any immigration solution. He was part of the bipartisan coalition that tried to pass amnesty legislation in 2006 and 2007. In 2006 he voted in favor of S. 2611, legislation that would reward between 10 and 11 million illegals with amnesty if they apply for legal status and pay a $2,000 fine.

Supporting in-state tuition for illegal aliens. Mr. McCain was a cosponsor of S. 774, the Dream Act, providing in-state tuition for illegal aliens. The legislation would have enabled illegal aliens who entered the United States before age 16 to obtain a green card and then use their newly acquired status to obtain green cards for the millions of parents who illegally brought their children with them into the United States. Mr. McCain missed a Senate vote on the issue in October. He said that he would have opposed it on the Senate floor had he been there to vote.

Voted to kill border fence. In 2006, Mr. McCain voted for an amendment to S. 2611 offered by Sen. Arlen Specter to require consultation with the Mexican government concerning the construction of fencing along the U.S.-Mexican border. According to Numbers USA, an organization that lobbies against illegal immigration, this amendment would have effectively guaranteed that the border fence was never built.

Voted against permanently barring gang members and terrorists from the United States. Last year, Mr. McCain voted against an amendment (Senate Amendment 1184) introduced by Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, that would have permanently barred gang members, terrorists, sex offenders, alien absconders, aliens convicted of domestic violence and aliens convicted of at least three DUIs from the United States. The Cornyn Amendment was rejected on a 51-46 vote.

Voted in favor of Social Security benefits to illegal aliens who commit identity fraud. In 2006. Mr. McCain joined with Mr. Kennedy in working to defeat an amendment by Sen. John Ensign, Nevada Republican, that would have barred Social Security credits for work being done prior to their receiving amnesty — in other words, while working under a false Social Security number. The Ensign Amendment, (Senate Amendment 3985) was defeated on a 50-49 vote.

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