As ThinkProgress noted on Saturday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) made inconsistent immigration pledges in a speech to the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, claiming he would both “secure our borders first” and make comprehensive reform his “top priority”:
— [W]e can and will secure our borders first, while respecting the dignity and rights of citizens and legal residents of the United States
— Q: Will comprehensive immigration reform – and not just enforcement – be one of your top policy priorities in your first 100 days in office?
McCAIN: It’ll be my top priority yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
But that wasn’t the only false claim McCain made that day. Yesterday, the Washington Times noted that McCain also claimed he supported the 1986 Immigration Reform Act, legislation long lambasted by conservatives as an “amnesty” bill:
[I]n 1986, we passed a law and said we would secure the borders and gave amnesty to a couple — three million people. I supported that legislation way back then.
The Arizona Republic newspaper in 1986 reported that he had called the bill racist and quoted him as saying the bill’s requirements for employers to verify workers “would institutionalize discrimination.” He said employers would refuse to hire Hispanics to avoid running afoul of the law.
A McCain campaign official said the senator “was referring to his support for a comprehensive solution – going back to that time. He did oppose some provisions and didn’t end up voting for the bill.” As Time Magazine notes today, McCain’s shifting immigration stance, which it calls “confusion,” has been “somewhat intentional on the part of the McCain campaign” in order to woo conservatives and moderates.