Former CNN anchor and anti-immigration reform crusader Lou Dobbs appeared on the O’Reilly Factor last night with an interesting announcement. Dobbs told host O’Reilly that he supports immigration reform with a path to citizenship and also lamented his “combative nature” during the 2007 immigration debate. Dobbs continued insisting that his position on immigration hasn’t changed, explaining that he simply overemphasized border security in the past to the exclusion of legalization and that a “wiser Lou Dobbs” has emerged who is committed to promoting both:
DOBBS: I think the essence of the legislation of 2007 is right: pay a fine, learn English, commit to assimilation in the United States, and begin a path to citizenship…there should also be another guest worker program. [...]
O’REILLY: You sound very moderate. As you said, “I’m the tougher guy here.” Why do you think Hispanics come after you so hard?
DOBBS: I think in part — one thing is my own stupidity. I put forward a statement: rational, effective, humane policy…the emphasis became in the debate of my combative nature the issue of border security first and foremost, versus reforming immigration policy. I’m saying the same thing, but I’m keeping it absolutely combined.
O’REILLY: So you’re a kinder, gentler Lou Dobbs.
DOBBS: I’m a wiser Lou Dobbs.
Politifact found “no point-blank case” in which Dobbs has explicitly opposed legalizing undocumented immigrants, however he did repeatedly refer to the immigration legislation he praised last night as an “amnesty bill” during the 2007 debate. Dobbs also slammed Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and President Obama during the 2008 presidential race for supporting “[guest worker] programs that bring in cheap foreign labor at the expense of American workers.” Last month, the anti-immigrant group Americans for Legal Immigration PAC announced it was dropping its support of Dobbs, citing a perceived change of views that “deeply offended his base.”
Despite his new proclaimed emphasis on border security and legalization, during the beginning of the segment a supposedly “wiser” Dobbs told O’Reilly that a recent bill introduced by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) is nothing but a “a list of what the open-borders amnesty crowd wants.” Gutierrez’s bill would establish an earned legalization program with requirements similar to those proposed by Dobbs and also includes several provisions aimed at beefing up border security.
Cross-posted at Wonk Room.