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John McCain On Having A Path To Citizenship Before The Border Is Secured

Written By : John Hawkins
April 28, 2008

After the last John McCain teleconference, the bloggers that participated were told they could email in any questions they didn’t get to ask. I took that opportunity to ask John McCain the following question,

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“You have said many times that you believe that the American people signaled, during the fight over comprehensive immigration reform, that they did not trust Congress to enforce the laws, secure the border, and institute a path to citizenship for illegal aliens at the same time. You’ve also said that you’ve heard their message loud and clear and therefore, now believe we should secure the border first, instead of trying to push through another comprehensive immigration bill.

With that in mind, would you be willing to say that you would oppose any bill that contained a path to citizenship for illegal aliens until the border is secured? If not, could you list any path to citizenship exceptions that you would support before the border is secured?”

Here’s the answer that the campaign sent back to me.

As the recent immigration debate demonstrated, Americans have little trust that their government will honor a pledge to do the things necessary to make our border secure. As president, I will honor that pledge by securing the border, thus strengthening our national security. I will also require that, among other things, border-state governors certify that the border is secure before proceeding to other reform measures. However, I also believe that our immigration system must recognize that America will always be that “shining city upon a hill,” a beacon of hope and opportunity for those seeking a better life built on hard work and optimism. Once we achieve border security, we must ensure that we approach our remaining immigration challenges with constructive dialogue and solutions that reflect a compassionate approach and the needs of our economy.

On the one hand, it may appear that McCain didn’t expressly answer my question. However, this sentence wouldn’t seem to give him a lot of wiggle room,

“I will also require that, among other things, border-state governors certify that the border is secure before proceeding to other reform measures.”

I take that to mean that McCain is saying that he won’t move on a path to citizenship until the border has been certified as secure by all of the border-state governors. If he means that, a path to citizenship is, realistically, more than four years away.

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