Earlier this week, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) appeared on Fox News’ On the Record with Greta Van Susteren. During the interview McCain and Kyl argued that the Congress is not at a place where it can enact comprehensive immigration reform and spoke at length about the need to secure the border. However, not long ago, McCain and Kyl stood on the other side of the argument. In 2006, McCain worked with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) on a comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate, but never made it to committee. In 2007, Kyl followed-up the legislation by sponsoring a more conservative immigration reform bill that failed to make it through cloture. At the time, Kyl and McCain faced many of the same arguments against immigration reform that they are now bringing up themselves today. The thoughtful responses they provided to criticisms just a few years ago not only evidence the hypocrisy that the two have displayed on the issue, they also serve as a rebuttal to the rhetoric and excuses that the two Senators have been using in 2010.
Watch a video of McCain and Kyl’s contradicting statements:
Here is some more documentation of where they stand now versus where they stood then:
NOW: “The border is not secure. It can be made secure without comprehensive immigration reform.”
THEN: McCain once insisted that a border crackdown would do nothing to solve the nation’s immigration problem. In the past, Kyl has pointed out that the immigration system itself has to be fixed in order to enforce the law: “The answer is of course if you don’t have a good law to enforce, you can’t work that strategy. The law has got to be changed.” The country’s visa system is outdated by more than 20 years and no matter how much money is poured into “border security,” it doesn’t change the fact that the lack of green cards and work permits will continue to propel illegal immigration. Beefing up the border also won’t address the fact that almost half of undocumented immigrants legally enter the U.S. with tourist visas that they overstay.
NOW: “Until it [the border] is secure, I don’t think the political conditions are there [to tackle immigration reform].”
THEN: Kyl and McCain once shunned the idea of using border security as a pre-requisite for immigration reform. McCain called an “enforcement-first” strategy an “ineffective and ill-advised approach.” “Congress cannot take a piecemeal approach to a national security crisis. I believe the only way to truly secure our border and protect our Nation is through the enactment of comprehensive immigration reform. As long as there is a need for workers in the United States and people are willing to cross the desert to make a better life for their families, our border will never be secure,” said McCain. In response to critics of the immigration bill Kyl sponsored who complained that the border was not secure, Kyl replied, “If you are unhappy with the status quo, if you don’t like the way that things are today, then why would you oppose a change that at least offers the prospect that the new law will be enforced when we know that the old law is not being adequately enforced?” Both senators slammed lawmakers for taking the easy way out by “sitting on the sidelines” and saying “no” to everything that came their way.
NOW: “We have a ten point plan…surveillance people, and the fencing completed or replaced where it needs to be.”
THEN: For a long time, McCain was a staunch critic of building a border fence. In a 2007 Vanity Fair article, McCain is quoted as saying, “I think the fence is least effective. But I’ll build the goddamned fence if they want it.” During the GOP presidential primary debate, McCain proclaimed, “America is still the land of opportunity, and it is a beacon of hope and liberty and, as Ronald Reagan said, a shining city on the hill…And we’re not going to erect barriers and fences.” McCain has also cited the futility of building a fence:”No wall, no barrier, no sensor, no barbed wire will ever stop people from trying to do what is a basic yearning of human beings all over the world, and that is to have better lives for themselves and their families.”
NOW: “Murderous, barbaric behavior…this violence…has really increased, raised the stakes rather dramatically in our requirement to get the border secure.”
THEN: Rather than engaging in fear-mongering, McCain once referred to undocumented immigrants as “God’s children.” McCain used to remind people that “the overwhelming majority of people who come to this country are honest, god-fearing, hard-working people.” In 2008, McCain even conceded that the “the tenor of the [immigration] debate has harmed our image among Hispanics” — a point that was affirmed by the 2008 election results.