Over the weekend, I read this piece that appeared in the Long Beach Press-Telegram by columnist Ruben Navarette that was pretty favorable toward Senator John McCain. I was struck by how one dimensional the piece was and again bothered that one’s stance on immigration was spun into somehow standing up for the Latino community. Once again, one of our own decided to take a limited view of the Latino electorate, looking at us through the narrow lens of immigration, seemingly forgetting that so many of us are not immigrants and haven’t been immigrants for generations. Yes, immigration reform is important, no doubt there, but when it comes down to it, Latinos are being swayed by bread and butter issues, as Professor Adrian Pantoja of Pitzer College points out here, “Certainly, the deportation of a loved one could be a personal blow. But the impact is not as significant as the loss of a job or the loss of a home or the loss of a child in Iraq.”
One thing that I want to explore is McCain’s position on immigration. A few months ago, I blogged about how The Sanctuary bloggers, a nonpartisan group, sent out an immigration related questionnaire to both the Obama and McCain campaigns. It wasn’t the McCain campaign who responded to the questionnaire. However, Barack Obama’s campaign did. If McCain has long supported Latinos as Navarette suggests, why couldn’t he go on the record and answer The Sanctuary bloggers? To me, the obvious reason is that McCain has danced around the immigration issue, as have other politicians.
John McCain once supported the bipartisan immigration reform bill that had his name on it (McCain-Kennedy), but he has now told the public that he would no longer support that bill to instead focus on securing the borders first. Border walls don’t address the root cause of immigration, but they can create havoc with residents on both sides of the wall and don’t seem to be a good long term solution. Eventually, people will find a way around the wall. We have miles of unsecured shore and unsecured border with Canada. Would we eventually resort to building walls and barriers around the rest of the country too?
In the past McCain has said that amnesty would be an important part to immigration reform, but now he won’t affirm that statement. Coming from a border state, McCain has a unique opportunity to build bridges, but he doesn’t seem to be a trailblazer on immigration reform. Another thing that he has mentioned is creating a new guest worker program. I don’t have to go to great lengths to describe the problems with the Bracero program, but you can check out this site at UC Berkeley for a short lesson.
Sure, John McCain has served in the Navy with other Latinos, and yes, he has been honored by NCLR for not wanting to make English the official language of the land, and in the past has said that he would welcome immigrants to America to perform jobs that Americans won’t do, but lately he’s been all over the map. When Ruben Navarette says that McCain has long supported Latinos, I think that he’s referring to a John McCain from a few years ago, a man who hadn’t sold his soul to the extremists in his party, or there’s always the possibility that Navarette knows something that we don’t.