Thursday, April 26, 2007

Feeling the Heat

After years of ignoring the strong opinion of a majority of Americans, and the overwhelming opinion of most conservatives, Republican politicians may have noticed that amnesty for illegal aliens (call it a "path to citizenship," if you like to lie about it) and increased immigration just aren't all that popular. Presidential hopeful Senator Sam Brownback, who back last year's thankfully failed immigration bill, appears to have had an epiphany on the subject.

Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Sam Brownback said yesterday he no longer supports the immigration overhaul bill that he helped pass in the Senate.

"I would not vote for the same bill," Mr. Brownback told reporters yesterday morning, saying that after the bill passed the Senate he had a chance to study its effects and decided it led to too much immigration.

It's a major reversal for a man who is listed as one of seven original sponsors of the bill, along with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, and Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, who spearheaded the bill.

"What we got through was what we could get through the Senate and move the process forward," Mr. Brownback said in explaining his vote. "There are things in it that I don't think are good within that."

He said the bill would lead to too much "chain migration," allowing immigrants to sponsor family members to join them in the United States. Mr. Brownback said he supports sponsorship of spouses and children, but that thinks siblings should be excluded.

The immigration issue has Republicans spinning, particularly those running for president, as they try to match their rhetoric to the beliefs of conservative primary voters.

It's a particularly difficult issue for Mr. Brownback and Mr. McCain, who have been asked repeatedly about their positions on the campaign trail and who have distanced themselves from their own bill.

Mr. Brownback, speaking at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, did not specify what changed to turn him against the bill, but his Senate office spokesman, Brian Hart, said the situation is different this year.

What likely turned Mr. Brownback against his earlier stance was the experience of meeting thousands of angry conservative votes on the campaign trail, many of who apparently questioned his pro-amnesty stance, and gave him a good measure of the public's growing anger over the immigration mess. It's easy to ignore the public's real opinions while sheltered in the Beltway Cocoon, but once outside of Washington's zone of unreality, the truth is easier to glimpse.

Of course, Mr. Brownback's sudden u-turn shouldn't be read as a real change of heart. Nothing a politician says or does should be assumed genuine, particularly while they are running for office. But Mr. Brownback's abandonment of the Presiden't pro-amnesty plan is at least a good sign since it means that some Republicans are getting the message. Keeping the pressure on the GOP is the only way conservatives can prevent Bush's disastrous amnesty ambition from becoming a catastrophic reality.


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