Obama and McCain at La Raza

By Jon Feere on July 15, 2008

Regardless of which candidate wins in November, be prepared for the National Council of La Raza to announce a victory for mass, illegal alien amnesty. La Raza will likely announce that the outcome (whether it be a President Obama or McCain) “indicates America’s support for comprehensive reform.” Of course, poll after poll after poll indicates quite the opposite.

The following are immigration-related excerpts from the Obama and McCain speeches at La Raza’s annual conference this week.

Obama Argues He’s More Open-border Than McCain:

The system isn’t working when 12 million people live in hiding, and hundreds of thousands cross our borders illegally each year; when companies hire undocumented immigrants instead of legal citizens to avoid paying overtime or to avoid a union; when communities are terrorized by ICE immigration raids – when nursing mothers are torn from their babies, when children come home from school to find their parents missing, when people are detained without access to legal counsel.
. . .
The 12 million people in the shadows, the communities taking immigration enforcement into their own hands, the neighborhoods seeing rising tensions as citizens are pitted against new immigrants…they’re counting on us to stop the hateful rhetoric filling our airwaves – rhetoric that poisons our political discourse, degrades our democracy, and has no place in this great nation. They’re counting on us to rise above the fear and demagoguery, the pettiness and partisanship, and finally enact comprehensive immigration reform.

Now, I know Senator McCain used to buck his party on immigration by fighting for comprehensive reform – and I admired him for it. But when he was running for his party’s nomination, he abandoned his courageous stance, and said that he wouldn’t even support his own legislation if it came up for a vote.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time for a President who won’t walk away from something as important as comprehensive reform when it becomes politically unpopular. And that’s the commitment I’m making to you. I marched with you in the streets of Chicago. I fought with you in the Senate for comprehensive immigration reform. And I will make it a top priority in my first year as President. Not just because we need to secure our borders and get control of who comes into our country. And not just because we have to crack down on employers abusing undocumented immigrants. But because we have to finally bring those 12 million people out of the shadows.

Yes, they broke the law. And we should not excuse that. We should require them to pay a fine, learn English, and go to the back of the line for citizenship – behind those who came here legally. But we cannot – and should not – deport 12 million people. That would turn America into something we’re not; something we don’t want to be.

These oft-repeated “penalties” (which come directly from the Bush White House) are not serious. As for the fine, immigrant rights attorneys will cry discrimination and those aliens who don’t pay it will never be deported. The English language requirement would be impossible to regulate and would likely never be enforced; if Obama is unwilling to deport a person for entering the country illegally, he certainly is not going to deport someone for improperly conjugating a verb. The back-of-the-line penalty is most dishonest; unless the illegal alien is deported and required to wait in his homeland (where the back of the line is geographically located), he will continue to live and work in the United States while other applicants (who are adhering to the rule of law by waiting in their homeland) truly remain at the back of the line.


While we work to strengthen our borders, we need a practical solution for the problem of 12 million people who are here without documentation – many of whom have lived and worked here for years. That’s why we need to offer those who are willing to make amends a pathway to citizenship. That way, we can reconcile our values as both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws.

McCain Argues He’s More Open-border Than Obama:

As you know, this isn’t my first address to La Raza. I’m proud to have worked hard over the years with many friends here and elsewhere to make sure Americans of Hispanic heritage are appreciated for their contributions to the prosperity, security and culture of the United States, and to improve opportunities for your continued success, not for your sake alone but for the benefit of the entire nation. I also want to thank La Raza’s former CEO, Raul Yzaguirre, for being here today, and for the privilege of over twenty years of friendship and counsel he has so generously given me.

For the record, Mr. Yzaguirre recently co-chaired Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. He opposes nearly all forms of immigration law enforcement.

As you know, I and many other colleagues twice attempted to pass comprehensive immigration legislation to fix our broken borders; ensure respect for the laws of this country; recognize the important economic contribution of immigrant laborers; apprehend those who came here illegally to commit crimes; and deal practically and humanely with those who came here, as my distant ancestors did, to build a better, safer life for their families, without excusing the fact they came here illegally or granting them privileges before those who have been waiting their turn outside the country. Many Americans did not believe us when we said we would secure our borders, and so we failed in our efforts. I don’t want to fail again to achieve comprehensive immigration reform. We must prove we have the resources to secure our borders and use them, while respecting the dignity and rights of citizens and legal residents of the United States. When we have achieved our border security goal, we must enact and implement the other parts of practical, fair and necessary immigration policy. We have economic and humanitarian responsibilities as well, and they require no less dedication from us in meeting them.

Several years ago, the leading newspaper in my state published an article putting faces on the tragic human costs of illegal immigration, and I would like to briefly quote from it:

Maria Hernandez Perez was No. 93. She was almost 2. She had thick brown hair and eyes the color of chocolate.

Kelia Velazquez-Gonzales, 16, carried a Bible in her backpack. She was No. 109.

John Doe, No. 143, died with a rosary encircling his neck. His eyes were wide open.

McCain fails to realize that the desert deaths of illegal aliens attempting to enter the U.S. would come to a stop if we made it clear that the United States is not welcoming to illegal immigration; unfortunately, by announcing to the world that he will give citizenship to anyone who sneaks into the U.S., McCain is actually encouraging more deaths. Furthermore, McCain failed to mention anything about the countless Americans who have been killed or otherwise harmed as a direct result of illegal immigration.

We can’t let immigrants break our laws with impunity. We can’t leave our borders undefended. But these people are God’s children, who wanted simply to be Americans, and we cannot forget the humanity God commands of us as we seek a remedy to this problem.

I spoke recently at both the NALEO and LULAC conferences, as did Senator Obama. I did not use those occasions to criticize Senator Obama. I would prefer not to do so today. But he suggested in his speeches there and here, that I turned my back on comprehensive reform out of political necessity. I feel I must, as they say, correct the record. At a moment of great difficulty in my campaign, when my critics said it would be political suicide for me to do so, I helped author with Senator Kennedy comprehensive immigration reform, and fought for its passage. I cast a lot of hard votes, as did the other Republicans and Democrats who joined our bipartisan effort. So did Senator Kennedy. I took my lumps for it without complaint. My campaign was written off as a lost cause. I did so not just because I believed it was the right thing to do for Hispanic Americans. It was the right thing to do for all Americans. Senator Obama declined t o cast some of those tough votes. He voted for and even sponsored amendments that were intended to kill the legislation, amendments that Senator Kennedy and I voted against. I never ask for any special privileges from anyone just for having done the right thing. Doing my duty to my country is its own reward. But I do ask for your trust that when I say, I remain committed to fair, practical and comprehensive immigration reform, I mean it. I think I have earned that trust.

Let me close by expressing my respect and gratitude for the contributions of Hispanic-Americans to the culture, economy and security of the country I have served all my adult life. I represent Arizona where Spanish was spoken before English was, and where the character and prosperity of our state owes a great deal to the many Arizonans of Hispanic descent who live there. And I know this country, which I love more than almost anything, would be the poorer were we deprived of the patriotism, industry and decency of those millions of Americans whose families came here from other countries in our hemisphere. Latinos are among the hardest working most productive people in our country. The strength of your religious faith and the strength and closeness of your families are a great force for social stability and individual happiness. In my recent visit to Mexico, I visited the Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and was greatly moved by the experience, and came to appreciate all the more your deep devotion to the God who created us and loves us all equally. I will honor your contributions to America for as long as I live. We would not be the special country we are without you.”
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Topics: UnidosUS