How The GOP Is Talking Itself Past The ‘Amnesty’ Trap
BENJY SARLIN JANUARY 29, 2013, 10:24 AM 4809
If you had to sum up immigration reform’s crushing defeat in 2007 in one word, there would be exactly one choice:
That single characterization of proposals to legalize the undocumented population became a rallying cry on the right, presaging the tea party revolution and overthrowing the best laid plans of George W. Bush and Ted Kennedy alike.
As Republicans take their first steps toward backing a comprehensive immigration bill with many of the same features as their 2007 effort, the wounds of the “amnesty” tag are still raw. Not coincidentally, one of the first tasks for any prominent conservative endorsing reform is to try and neutralize the word.
On Monday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), whose entire career was threatened by an anti-immigration backlash in Arizona, used the dreaded a-word to describe the status quo.
“The reality that’s been created is a de facto amnesty,” McCain told reporters at a press conference introducing his own bipartisan plan Monday. “We have been too content for too long to allow individuals to mow our lawn, serve our food, clean our homes, and even watch our children, while not affording them any of the benefits that make our country so great.”