Dan Stein

As they wait for their official coronations by their respective parties, John McCain and Barack Obama have been filling the time by making speeches to the annual summer conventions of various interest groups. Over the past few weeks, the prospective nominees have spoken before several Hispanic leadership organizations and reignited the debate about granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens that the American public thought had been put to rest last summer.

Addressing these Hispanic advocacy groups, both McCain and Obama promised to make “comprehensive immigration reform” a legislative priority for their new administrations. As attractive as anything labeled comprehensive might be, the plans both men are touting amount to iron clad guarantees that millions of illegal aliens will be allowed to remain in the U.S., still higher levels of legal immigration, and more foreign guest workers for business interests. Balancing out the comprehensive label are promises of better enforcement of our immigration laws in the future that, based on history, will never be fulfilled.

Immigration reform is a high priority for American voters, but amnesty, more foreign labor, and massive government mandated population growth is not the reform they have in mind. Secure borders, vigorous and consistent enforcement against employers who undermine American workers by hiring illegal aliens, elimination of nonessential entitlements to illegal aliens, and curtailment of endless extended family chain migration is more along the lines of what the public is demanding. This is not idle speculation. The McCain/Obama version of comprehensive immigration reform was proposed and soundly rejected by the American public in 2007.

Given the enormity of the agenda that will be facing the man who takes the oath of office next January, the last thing the new president will want to do is engage the country in another protracted debate about whether we should reward illegal aliens and the business interests who profit from low-wage foreign labor. The next administration will be faced with many cold hard realities in what promises to be both figuratively and literally a cold hard winter.

The new president (and the new Congress) will have to address a sputtering economy, a widening credit crisis and possibly failing financial institutions, a precipitous decline in home and stock portfolio values, and soaring energy costs that could well force millions of Americans to choose between keeping their families warm or keeping them fed. If that’s not enough to keep the new commander-in-chief occupied, there’s the war in Iraq, an increasingly bellicose (and possibly nuclear armed) Iran, and mountains of foreign debt that also need to be attended to.

Dan Stein

Dan Stein is President of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
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