- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 17, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In their speeches this week to the National Council of La Raza, Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain illustrated why the American public holds Congress — and politicians in general — in such low regard, particularly on the issue of illegal immigration. Based on their voting records and their remarks to that powerful amnesty lobby at its annual meeting in San Diego, there is not much substantive difference between the presumptive Democratic and Republican presidential candidates on the issue of amnesty for illegals.

In making his case for “comprehensive immigration reform” (mass amnesty), Mr. Obama upbraided Mr. McCain for backing away from his support for recent amnesty bills Mr. McCain pushed for, along with Sen. Edward Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat. Mr. Obama denigrated the men and women who work at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by referring to ICE raids against businesses who employ illegals in an insulting way. He falsely suggested that by doing its job, the agency was behaving in a thuggish, dehumanizing fashion. “The system isn’t working,” the Illinois Democrat stated, “when communities are terrorized by ICE immigration raids - when nursing mothers are torn from their babies, when children come home from school to find their parents missing.”

If Mr. Obama has evidence of misconduct on the part of ICE agents, he should make it available to the Justice Department or other responsible agencies for investigation. If he does not, then he owes an apology to the agency and the employees he slandered. The overwhelming majority of these people conduct themselves in a decent, honorable fashion in trying to enforce U.S. immigration laws. Frequently this means working long hours in miserable conditions while investigating employers and persons who are in the United States illegally. And, as is the case with FBI agents and state and local law enforcement officials, it is ICE’s responsibility to arrest people who it has probable cause to believe are violating the law - whether they have children or not.

Talk to ICE agents or any beat cop, and they’ll tell you that one of the most upsetting things they see is the impact that lawbreaking and crime have on children. But let’s be clear: When parents break the law, it is their behavior — and theirs alone — that is responsible for any suffering that their children endure. That is true of persons who commit crimes ranging from petty theft to murder, and it is true of persons who illegally reside in the United States. Mr. Obama surely knows this, but it is not in his interest to say so. During the Democratic primaries, Sen. Hillary Clinton ran far better among Hispanics than did Mr. Obama. He desperately needs the votes of the left-wing, open-borders advocates that La Raza represents. These people have been cool to Mr. Obama’s candidacy, and the surest way to make sure they stay on the sidelines would be for Mr. Obama to blame illegal aliens for the damage they have done to their own families. That’s why the senator decided to use the ICE agents as political cannon fodder in pushing for amnesty.

But Mr. McCain was hardly much better. In his appearance before La Raza, the Arizona Republican boasted that he had risked “political suicide” to support the amnesty bills in 2006 and 2007 and said he would try again to pass “comprehensive immigration reform” once the border is secured. And Mr. McCain, in response to questions from the audience, criticized unnamed groups he said had used harsh rhetoric in the immigration debate “to denigrate the contributions of Hispanics to our great country. I denounced those insults then, and I denounce them today.”

Mr. McCain did not say who he was upset with, but it doesn’t take a great deal of political savvy to figure out that he was in all likelihood referring to talk-radio and movement conservatives who played critical roles in defeating his immigration bill last year. And Mr. McCain’s “Straight Talk Express” took a bit of a detour on the Dream Act - which would provide in-state tuition to illegal aliens. In 2005, 2006 and 2007, Mr. McCain cosponsored the Dream Act. But in October, as he was attempting to salvage his then-moribund presidential campaign, Mr. McCain told a group of conservative bloggers that he opposed the act in its present form. But in Monday’s speech to La Raza, Mr. McCain said he supported the Dream Act - again.

The bipartisan pandering continues on illegal immigration.

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