Colin Powell: Wrong on Iraq, Right on Immigration


Former Secretary of State Colin Powell in USA Today:

Powell, a moderate Republican, urged his party Sunday to support immigration generally because it is "what's keeping this country's lifeblood moving forward."

In an interview with NBC's Meet the Press, he said a path to legal status should be offered to illegal immigrants in the U.S. because they "are doing things we need done in this country."

He added: "They're all over my house, doing things whenever I call for repairs, and I'm sure you've seen them at your house. We've got to find a way to bring these people out of the darkness and give them some kind of status."…

Elsewhere in the same piece, Powell notes that opponents should attack President Obama "on policy, not nonsense."

More here.

I think Powell is right about immigration. Whether they show up through official channels (next to impossible, if you're low-skilled and Mexican) or not, if you work hard and contribute to the country (including paying Social Security and income taxes, which about two-thirds of illegals do pay), you should get a shot at becoming legal. Better yet, absent criminal records and communicable diseases, they should be allowed to enter the country presumptively as legal, a shift that would concentrate migrants at official checkpoints and allow border patrol agents to more effectively do their jobs. And, yes, the feds should end the drug war, which is responsible for just about all the violence on the Mexican side of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Reason's reality-based guide to immigration reform came out in 2006 and is still relevant to this debate.

Update: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is bringing a vote on his plan to attach the DREAM Act to a defense-funding bill, which would offer a path to citizenship for some illegals, to a vote tomorrow. Reid, who called illegals "free loaders and scam artists" in 1993, is clearly angling for some Hispanic votes in a tight reelection bid. So what? Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who backed the DREAM Act earlier in the '00s, tossed over his generally good record on immigration in a tight primary fight with J.D. Hayworth.

As AOL's Politics Daily reports, the Dems are actively courting the Hispanic vote. It'll be a shame if the GOP simply abandons a large, growing, and ideologically diverse (and in many ways, a very socially conservative) group of voters. In 2004, George W. Bush won 44 percent of Hispanic votes and he had pulled just about half in at least one gubernatorial race too. The ugliest immigrant-bashers – the Tom Tancredos and Steve Kings—are Republicans but there's no reason to cede that vote to the Dems. I say that not because I care if the GOP wins anything but because it's better to have more groups represented by more parties.