There’s a lot of discussion (in my admittedly distorted Twitter feed) about whether embattled House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is duplicitously campaigning as an anti-amnesty fighter, given his heavily publicized initiative to confer citizenship on illegal immigrants who entered the country as children — a proposal he defends with impressive pomposity (“One of the great founding principles of our country was that children would not be punished for the mistakes of their parents”). Cantor has continued to push his “DREAM“-like kids plan during his reelection campaign — e.g. on Cavuto last week — even as his website has been scrubbed of all mention of it..
But if Cantor hasn’t endorsed a general legalization — i.e., for the estimated 11 million illegals living here, most of whom did not enter as children — is it really fair to tar him as “pro-amnesty”? Maybe, maybe not. But the question is hypothetical, because Cantor has endorsed a general legalization. He supports John Boehner’s proposed immigration “principles,” the last of which is:
Our national and economic security depend on requiring people who are living and working here illegally to come forward and get right with the law. There will be no special path to citizenship for individuals who broke our nation’s immigration laws – that would be unfair to those immigrants who have played by the rules and harmful to promoting the rule of law. Rather, these persons could live legally and without fear in the U.S., but only if they were willing to admit their culpability, pass rigorous background checks, pay significant fines and back taxes, develop proficiency in English and American civics, and be able to support themselves and their families (without access to public benefits). [Emphasis added]
Behind all the poll-tested phrases (e.g., “get right with the law”) and mostly-for-show requirements (which track the Senate bill, the one Cantor claims to hate) this is a sweeping legalization that would apply, not just to “those who were brought to this country as children and who know no other home” but also to the many more millions who came as adults, from homes in other countries, and knew exactly what they were doing — including the parents for whose sins we are not to punish the children.
Maybe Cantor was hoping he could make it through 2014 with just his “kids-only” proposal — that would be the sort of carefully calibrated positioning with which Cantor-watchers are familiar. Maybe he’s hoping that the larger legalization he has endorsed will be unaccompanied by citizenship and full voting rights (a foolish hope, given the predictable American revulsion against creating a class of disenfrachised workers). Maybe he went along with Boehner’s proposals because Boehner pressured him. Or maybe — to the contrary — he thinks emphasizing kids and deemphasizing “citizenship” is the best way to sneak a broad amnesty past Republican voters (and the Republican caucus).
It doesn’t matter. He supported it: a general legalization of the 11 million.
He’s not against amnesty.** He’s for it.
[You seem obsessed with opposing Cantor and supporting his opponent, Mr. Brat–ed. Beat Cantor and amnesty dies, at least for a while. There are other ways to stop it, of course. But that would be the quickest.]
** — We can have the argument over whether legalization without citizenship, or with a few requirements, is an “amnesty.” But it’s clearly “amnesty” under the definition of “amnesty” held by the Republican voters to whom Cantor is touting his anti-“amnesty” cred.