Think Progress | June 27, 2008

In an interview with the Las Vegas Sun released yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) praised himself for sponsoring the McCain-Kennedy immigration reform legislation of 2006, which failed to pass the Senate last year due to conservative opposition:

I haven’t won on every issue. I didn’t win on immigration reform, but I’ll go back at it. And I’m glad I did it.

McCain’s praise for comprehensive reform is a reversal of rhetoric he used when speaking of his own legislation when seeking the GOP nomination. In fact, in a Jan. 30 GOP debate, McCain said he would not vote for his own bill today:

Q: At this point, if your original proposal came to a vote on the Senate floor, would you vote for it? […]

McCAIN: No, I would not, because we know what the situation is today. The people want the borders secured first.

McCain maintains he has not changed his position on immigration reform, claiming his policy is still “secure the border first.” But in a scathing op-ed today, Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), whose district borders Mexico, notes that McCain once thought “securing the borders” was a secondary consideration to comprehensive reform:

On the floor of the United States Senate in September of 2006, Sen. McCain praised that the Senate had “rejected the argument for an ‘enforcement first’ strategy that focuses on border security only, an ineffective and ill-advised approach.” He went on to add that, “the only way to truly secure our border and protect our nation is through the enactment of comprehensive immigration reform.”

As Reyes noted, McCain can’t have it both ways. Being for “securing the borders first” and also being pro-comprehensive reform “are two very different approaches.” This weekend, McCain will address the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials “and will have a chance to clarify which position he holds. It can be only one,” Reyes pressed.

Only in McCain’s world of regular immigration flip-flops is it possible to be “glad” to have championed legislation that he wouldn’t support today.

UpdateBen Smith notes that on a McCain conference call this afternoon, a spokeswoman said, “It’s fairly significant that Senator McCain worked on the immigration reform legislation while he was pursing the nomination of his party,” claiming McCain “reached across the aisle despite a heated primary campaign.”
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