The Tar Pit

Monday, December 27, 2004

A Kennedy-McCain alliance for the Bush Amnesty - coming soon?

Despite the setbacks this Summer of his S 1645, the AGJobs amnesty for a sector of illegal aliens involved in farm work, Ted Kennedy appears open to working with John McCain on a big effort to find another way to legalize illegals:

"Since the election, Senator McCain has spoken with the president and many members of Congress, including Senator Kennedy, trying to forge a consensus on immigration reform in an effort to move forward on this issue during the new Congress," spokeswoman Crystal Benton said.

Kennedy, a longtime proponent of immigration reform said, "Congress needs to fix our broken immigration system as soon as possible, not only for economic and humanitarian reasons, but for urgent national security reasons as well. I'm hopeful we can reach bipartisan agreement early in the new Congress on reforms that are obviously needed."

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"Both Senator McCain and Senator Kennedy think the system is broken and we need to fix it," said a congressional staffer familiar with discussions between the two senators. "I think at this point we're trying to see if we can bridge the gaps between our two offices and other (congressional offices) on this.

"We're still very early in the process," the staffer added.

Migrant reform bill in works
December 25, 2004| Arizona Republic

Since the anonymous staffer is from either McCain's or Kennedy's office, and since McCain's spokeswoman Crystal Benton already spoke on the record for his office, it looks likely that the anonymous staffer was Kennedy's.

This isn't the first time that Kennedy has surfaced as a possible ally in President Bush's endeavor to legalize millions of illegal aliens under the guise of a "guest worker program:"
The initiative, which draws heavily on legislation already introduced in Congress by three Arizona Republicans, Sen. John McCain and Rep. Jeff Flake and Rep. Jim Kolbe, has two central components. It would provide a mechanism by which some U.S. businesses would be able to import an unlimited number of low-wage foreign workers, and it would allow most of the roughly 10 million illegal aliens already in the United States a means by which they (and their extended families) would be able to remain legally -- and permanently -- in the United States.

"It's one of those legacy issues that can help define a presidency," said a Bush campaign adviser familiar with the Bush-McCain meeting.

"It's early in this," the adviser said, speaking on the condition of anonymity, warning of untold pitfalls ahead. "There are people opposed to it on the left and the right."

Still, the adviser indicated McCain would be the "lead carrier" of Bush's proposal next year in Congress.

One congressional avenue being explored by various parties is partnering with Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., long an advocate of immigration reform.

Immigration law reform to be an 'important item' in Bush's second term
Nov. 19, 2004 | St. Paul Pioneer Press

And again...
President Bush has indicated he may rely on McCain, along with Sen. Edward Kennedy, to lead a bipartisan effort to pass his immigration-reform plan.

McCain, in an interview Thursday, said he was confident Bush would push the immigration issue to the front burner and expected to hear more about it during the president's State of the Union address.

Immigration issue No. 1, McCain says
November 22, 2004 | Arizona Republic

Senator Kennedy, however, isn't the only member of his extended clan to find some appeal in John McCain's illegal alien amnesty:
  • Deportation is not an option. We need to find a way to legitimize these individuals and get them on a path toward legal residency status in the United States.
  • Let me be clear: I do not support an amnesty program. The last time we tried that in the late 80s it didn't work, and there's little reason to think it would work now.
  • I am encouraged by the approach laid out by Senator McCain to provide a clear path for legitimizing undocumented immigrants who currently live their lives in the shadows. McCain's bill S 1461 - The Border Security and Immigration Act of 2003
    • A new H-4A visa for immigrants seeking temporary employment with important protections to ensure that immigrant workers are not exploited and that Californians are not displaced by unscrupulous employers;
    • A new H-4B visa for undocumented immigrants who entered the country before August 2003, have held a job since that time, and do not have a criminal record.
    • The opportunity for holders of these new visas to gain legal permanent residency status.
  • " Senator McCain's plan contains the key principles that should guide any proposal to solve the immigration impasse:

Arnold Schwarzenegger: Solving the Immigration Impasse campaign website (Google Cache)

Original campaign link (now broken)

McCain's bill would:
* Permit jobs in all sectors of the U.S. economy to be taken by guestworkers.

* Allow illegal aliens claiming residency in the United States prior to August 1, 2003 -- nearly the entire resident population of nine to eleven million illegal aliens -- to become legal guestworkers.

* Allow illegal aliens who become legal guestworkers to renew their guestworker status for three additional years and then become eligible to apply for legal permanent resident status.

* Allow new guestworkers entering the United States to apply for legal permanent resident status after three years.

* Usher in a new source of mass legal immigration without any corresponding reduction or reform of any other existing legal immigration categories.

* Not provide any barriers to continued illegal immigration.

S. 1461 and H.R. 2899, Border Security and Immigration Improvement Act
November 20, 2003 |

McCain's S 1461 has a companion bill in the House, HR 2899, sponsored by Arizona Congressmen Jim Kolbe and Jeff Flake.

To complete an interesting little circle of Republicans, Flake, along with Idaho Senator Larry Craig and Utah Congressman Chris Cannon, were present and prominently mentioned by President Bush when he launched his effort to legalize millions of illegal aliens under yet another amnesty disguised as a guest worker program. Cannon and far Left California Democrat Congressman Howard Berman were the proud co-sponsors of HR 3142, the House companion bill to Ted Kennedy's AgJOBS Amnesty, and Craig was Kennedy's Senate AgJOBS co-sponsor.

With allies like these, it does not appear that President Bush and Ted Kennedy are of altogether unlike minds on the matter of legalizing illegal aliens.