While speaking before the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO), Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama called out John McCain for walking away from his commitment to comprehensive immigration reform.
“Now, one place where Senator McCain used to offer change was on immigration. He was a champion of comprehensive reform, and I admired him for it,” Obama said. “But when he was running for his party’s nomination, he walked away from that commitment and he’s said he wouldn’t even support his own legislation if it came up for a vote. If we are going to solve the challenges we face, you need a President who will pursue genuine solutions day in and day out. And that is my commitment to you.”
The McCain campaign’s response was to dodge the issue of the flip-flop and blame Obama for working against the Bush immigration reform bill, “It’s quite audacious for Barack Obama to question John McCain’s commitment to immigration reform when it was Obama himself who worked to kill the Senate’s bipartisan immigration reform compromise last year. Barack Obama voted for five ‘poison pill’ amendments designed by special interests to kill the immigration reform deal.”
However in his speech Obama called for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, “We need immigration reform that will secure our borders, and punish employers who exploit immigrant labor; reform that finally brings the 12 million people who are here illegally out of the shadows by requiring them to take steps to become legal citizens. We must assert our values and reconcile our principles as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. That is a priority I will pursue from my very first day.”
No matter who wins the election in November, immigration reform is going to continue to be a hot button issue. I think that a pathway to citizenship is the sensible thing to do, but I also thought that the Bush immigration reform bill was a hodgepodge of ideas with no clear purpose behind them. McCain can try to shift the focus and blame to Obama, but he can’t hide from the fact that he caved in to the right wing of his party on immigration.