Is John McCain flip-flopping on immigration? Now? Why?
Republican presidential hopeful John McCain on Thursday backed a scaled-down proposal that imposes strict rules to end illegal immigration but doesn't include a path to citizenship.
The move away from a comprehensive measure is an about-face for the Arizona senator, who had been a leading GOP champion of a bill that included a guest worker program and would have legalized many of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S. It failed earlier this year.
Among other things, the bill makes being in the country illegally a criminal misdemeanor and toughens penalties for re-entering after being deported. It mandates an electronic system for employers to check workers' citizenship status and requires illegal immigrants who commit a crime to be held in jail until they are deported.
The press release is here: Lindsay Graham and John Kyl, buffetted by the base during the immigration fight, are co-sponsors.
Here's what McCain was saying about immigrants and citizenship in 2006:
These people have come for the same reason immigrants have always come to America. They came to grasp the lowest rung of the ladder, and they intend to rise. Let them rise. Let them rise. We will be better for it. For America, blessed, bountiful, beautiful America - is still the land of hope and opportunity - the land of the immigrant's dreams. Long may she remain so.
By the way, the title of McCain's upcoming book is Hard Call: Great Decisions and the Extraordinary People Who Made Them.