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Obama criticizes McCain over immigration

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Both candidates had addressed a conference of Hispanic community representatives in Washington, D.C.
While McCain did not specifically retreat from his previous front line position in favor of comprehensive immigration reform and a path to legalization for illegals, he laid greatest stress during his speech on the need to bring control to the nation’s porous borders, this while praising the role in American society of immigrants from Mexico, Central and South America.
But on reform, McCain, who spoke in 2006 at an Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform rally in the Bronx, warned that all else would have to follow border security.
“We will not succeed in the Congress of the United States until we convince a majority of the American people that we have border security,” he said.
Such a position is in line with the current emphasis on McCain’s website with regard to immigration.
Obama, in his address to the same gathering, praised McCain for his stance last year, that in the context of the Arizona senator being the main sponsor, along with Senator Edward Kennedy, of the reform bill that ultimately fell in a Senate vote.
But Obama then accused McCain of walking away from that earlier commitment to the reform cause.
“When he was running for his party’s nomination, he walked away from that commitment. He said he wouldn’t even support his own legislation if it came up for a vote,” Obama said.
“If we are going to solve the challenges we face, we can’t vacillate, we can’t shift depending on our politics. We must assert our values and reconcile our principles as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. That is a priority I will pursue from my very first day,” the Illinois senator added.
McCain’s campaign countered by later accusing Obama of trying to defeat the so-called McCain/Kennedy reform bill by backing amendments opposed by his own party.
The McCain/Kennedy bill collapsed at the end of June last year when supporters failed to secure a required 60 votes to secure “cloture,” thus ending potential endless debate and proceeding to a decisive up or down vote in the 100-member Senate.

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