A Republican Nails A Republican On Immigration
Well before the Justice Department announced that it has filed suit against the anti-immigration/anti-illegal immigration law in Arizona, conservative talk radio hosts were lining up to support the legislation, condemn illegal immigration, and condemn the Obama Administration.
But do they really oppose the immigration policies of Barack Obama? Even though she strongly implies otherwise, Sarah Palin apparently does not, if what she said on the July 9 edition of GOP TV's The O'Reilly Factor is any indication. O'Reilly conducted a magnificent interview (video below), the transcript of which (except for the short portion on another topic) follows:
O'REILLY: So you're president of the United States, Sarah Palin. You send how many National Guard to the border right away to secure it?
PALIN: However many you need. This is a top priority. This is a national security issue.
O'REILLY: All right, but I'm talking Texas, California, New Mexico, all of them. So you'd send maybe 10,000, 15,000 National Guard down there to assist the border patrol, yes?
PALIN: Whatever it takes. Whatever it takes.
O'REILLY: All right, so you'd militarize the border. You'd finish the fence, finish building the fence from Brownsville to San Diego, yes?
O'REILLY: Now we have 12 million people staring at you. And you say to those people you're in here illegally. You broke civil law by coming in here. Now are you going to deport them? What are you going to do?
PALIN: Well, again, first, let me go back to the importance of securing the border. They're talking about amnesty--
O'REILLY: No, but we got that, governor. Everybody--
PALIN: No, we don't.
O'REILLY: Yes, the people watching this program have it. We have it. We assume that you, as president would secure the border. I have confidence that you would do that. But now you have to look inward. All right? And you've got 12 million people staring at you. What are you going to have them do?
PALIN: You're not going to give them a free pass. You're not going to say okay you and anybody else who wants to scurry across this porous border between now and when we finally do finally get it fenced in and physically secure, we're going to give you a free pass.
O'REILLY: All right.
PALIN: And just because you've broken law in the past--
O'REILLY: So no amnesty--
PALIN: --we can trust you. No, no amnesty.
O'REILLY: But what do you do with these folks?
PALIN: Which means--
O'REILLY: Do you make them register with the federal government? Do you tell them they have 60 days to get out of here before we put you in jail? What do you do with them?
PALIN: Do we make them register with the federal government? Yes, we do.
O'REILLY: Yes, so we know who they are.
PALIN: We have -- exactly, yes. I want to answer to that question absolutely.
O'REILLY: All right.
PALIN: We're not going to give them a free pass.
O'REILLY: So you make them register with the federal government.
PALIN: We're not going to reward the bad behavior.
O'REILLY: And if they don't register with the -- say you gave them 60 days to register with the federal government. There's a form at the post office they have to send in like a Census form. All right, say they didn't do it.
PALIN: You deport them.
PALIN: You have to get them out.
O'REILLY: So the ones that don't--
PALIN: We don't reward their continued bad behavior.
O'REILLY: --after period of time. Okay, after a period of time--
O'REILLY: --the ones that don't cooperate, you catch them, they're gone.
O'REILLY: Now, you have these people that register. You're going to have millions of them. Then they register and they said okay, we obeyed what President Palin told us to do. Then what? Do you give them green cards to work right away? What do you do with them?
PALIN: You know, there has to be that expectation that they will work and that they will incident contribute. Bill, it makes me uncomfortable that we're even going down that path so far--
O'REILLY: you have to, thought.
PALIN: --when -- no, no.
O'REILLY: You have to go down the path because it's going to come up.
PALIN: American citizens who are here lawfully, they need to be the ones with the first shot at getting these jobs. We cannot make it easy on those who have chosen to be illegally here to disobey our laws. No--
O'REILLY: No, we can't make it easy, but they're here. And we can't starve them to death. And if they can't work, if they don't have a green card to work, they're going to be hosed. I mean, they got to pay rent, they got to buy groceries--
O'REILLY: --this, that and the other thing. So this is where it gets very complicated, governor. You know, it gets very, very complicated--
O'REILLY: --because you are rewarding bad behavior. You're letting them stay in the United States. And they came in illegally.
PALIN: Then let's keep it -- then we won't complicate it anymore. Let's keep it simple. And let's say no, if you are here illegally, and if you don't follow the steps that at some point through immigration reform, we're going to be able to provide, and that is to somehow allow to you work. If you're not going to do that, then you will be deported. You will be gone.
O'REILLY: Okay, we've established that.
PALIN: But let's look at case history.
O'REILLY: Yes, we've established that.
PALIN: Let's look at what, you know, political hero Ronald Reagan tried to do with 3 million illegals all those years ago.
O'REILLY: He botched it, though, governor. Reagan botched it.
O'REILLY: He botched it.
PALIN: That's what I'm saying. So we learn from history. We won't do what he did.
O'REILLY: No, but you're going to have to do--
PALIN: He did in that respect, in that realm.
O'REILLY: --whoever the next president is, is going to have to deal with 12 million people. And that's going to be very, very difficult.
If you read the transcript, or watch the video repeatedly (sometimes necessary to understand what Palin is saying), you'll notice that O'Reilly:
1) doesn't let his guest dominate the interview with the GOP talking point "secure the border" (which probably will never happen, as conservatives are aware; and which liberals, at least rhetorically, also support): "no, we got this governor";
2) maneuvers Mrs. Palin into claiming she would "make them register with the federal government" (which at best would raise as many questions as it would answer)- and then doesn't let it drop, challenging her to say what she would do if they "don't cooperate" (a truly uncomfortable question);
3) then, fairly, blindsides Palin with the question begging to be asked- what if they do cooperate. Palin cannot recommend that cooperative immigrants, even if illegal, can be punished and O'Reilly therefore informs her she would be "rewarding bad behavior" (because) she is "letting them stay in the United States." This would be after they came in illegally- which, of course, her border security would be meant to prevent;
4) having established that the presumptive GOP presidential hopeful wants to allow many illegal immigrants to remain in the United States- apparently without penalty, gently (does Bill O'Reilly do anything gently?) manipulates Palin into explaining, remarkably, "if you are here illegally, and if you don't follow the steps that at some point through immigration reform, we're going to be able to provide, and that is to somehow allow to you work. If you're not going to do that, then you will be deported. You will be gone."
There are two differences, both virtually irrelevant, between Palin's unformed, seat of the pants, plan and what generally is the "path to citizenship" condemned by GOP politicians: 1) Palin hasn't thought it through and is requiring less (only registration) of illegal immigrants than have liberals; 2) she specifies that if the illegal immigrant doesn't register (a step which would earn him/her a free pass), "you will be deported." For the few illegal immigrants foolish enough not to register with a President Palin, they would be deported. Maybe.
But the coup de grace for Mr. O'Reilly was getting the Quitting Governor to acknowledge that Saint Reagan made a mistake. O'Reilly: "He botched it." Palin: "That's what I'm saying."
President Reagan did "botch it." That he referred to it as "amnesty" doesn't help the Republican cause any. Still, Sarah Palin (presumably) will be running in a Republican primary (otherwise, as a Tea Party candidate or running around the country as a right-wing scold). And she admitted Ronald Reagan "botched" something. Even though most Republicans don't like the way Saint Reagan dealt with immigration, they're not likely to warm to a candidate who admits the 40th President wasn't perfect, if they catch wind of it. This is a gift for Mitt Romney- and Tim Pawlenty, Mike Huckabee, Mitch Daniels, Haley Barbour....
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