Gordon Smith Changes His Position on Immigration

Senator Gordon Smith is drawing media attention for an election-year conversion, only this time the topic is illegal immigration. This week, Smith voted against a bill that would create a path to citizenship for children of illegal immigrants who graduate from US high schools:

From the Oregonian's Jeff Mapes:

Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., has not been a hardliner on the immigration. In 2006, he supported an immigration bill that provided a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants - and that came under withering fire from conservatives who want to take tough steps to keep people from illegally crossing the border and getting jobs here.

The issue came up again in the Senate this week, but without much attention in the news (blame it on the California wildfires). Supporters of giving immigrants a path to citizenship carved off a popular piece of the bill that would allow children who came to the U.S. before the age of 16 to move toward legal status if they plan to go to college or join the military.

The measure scrambled party lines, with 11 Republicans voting for it (including such conservative stalwarts as Trent Lott and Sam Brownback). But Smith joined 43 other senators in voting against moving the bill, enough to keep supporters from getting the 60-vote majority they needed to proceed.

Mapes notes that the vote is a change from Smith's previous positions on immigration, and ties it to Smith's re-election efforts:

Democrats, though, are questioning whether Smith is catering to a Republican base shaken by has abandonment of President Bush on the Iraq War. One of the D Senate candidates, Steve Novick, put out a statement charging: "Whatever your views on immigration, these children are no threat to the American way of life. But in order to have some red meat to pander to the far right, Gordon Smith voted to punish these children."

Hammond denied that Smith was making a calculation based on next year's re-election race. And, indeed, one strong backer of legalization, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said he was concerned that carving off a piece of the bill weakens the bargaining position for those who want to move forward with broader immigration reform.

At the same time, it is clear that this bill hadn't slipped under the radar of the tough-on-immigration crowd, which sees this as "amnesty on the installment plan."

And make no mistake, they're a big deal in Republican circles in this state. Oregon's Republican National Commiteeman Solomon Yue told me a few months ago that GOP activists are more worked up about illegal immigration than they are about the war now - which he said was important to keeping them feeling good about Smith. And I notice that Smith's overall record on immigration - which earned him D- grades in the previous two sessions of Congress from a group that opposes granting legal status to illegal immigrants - has risen to A- this year.

Read the rest. What other issues might Smith change his position on?


  • Gil Johnson (unverified)

    It's clear now that the Republican strategy, both in Oregon and nationally, is to get really shrill on immigration. They going to try to blame every domestic woe on immigration and claim every government is coddling illegal immigrants and spending taxpayer dollars so that illegal immigrants can get on welfare, go to college and essentially live better than the average white American.

    Illegal immigrants are becoming the "Cadillac Welfare Mother" of the next election. The R's think they can distract enough ordinary voters from the war, health care, education, the environment and income inequality to eke out the election.

    They could do it, too. Especially when weird things happen, like a Portland mayor walking out of a council meeting in a snit because the council won't rubber stamp the renaming of Interstate to Cesar Chavez Blvd.

    Democrats are going to be accused of being soft on illegal immigrants. Fact is, the whole debate pretty much has been a fight between the religious right/Republican racists vs the corporate right. Smith's switch on the issue indicates the corporate right is going to go along with the anti-immigrant crowd, knowing full well that Congress actually won't do anything that actually impedes their ability to import cheap labor.

    But what, exactly, is the Democratic position on illegal immigration?

  • trollbot9000 (unverified)

    "It's clear now that the Republican strategy, both in Oregon and nationally, is to get really shrill on immigration."

    Do you suppose that might have something to do with invoking the wrath of their constituents over this rather precarious immigration issue? In case you failed to notice, there's no shortage of disgruntled voters when it comes to legislation that is seen as "amnesty" for "illegals" and the DREAM act is/was yet another example of that.

  • OneifbyLand (unverified)

    Why is it that "progressives", liberals hiding under a new name, think that upholding the U.S. Rule of Law is "racist? Its just misdirection while a million more illegals sneak across the border. If you don't think its an invasion,just see who complains when you try to stop it!

      " When the facts and the law are both  against

    you cry racism" Shysters Rules

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    I think the racist part comes into play for me when I don't see fences being put up along the Canadian border the way they are Mexico. If people from Mexico are only half of the illegal immigrant population, what are we doing about the other half? Why is it that when this issue is discussed and reported on, it's only the brown-skinned people that get highlighted?

    I'm not all that fond of illegal immigration myself, because it damages all parties involved, in the long run, but it is not difficult to see a racial undercurrent when there doesn't appear to be much of a crack down white illegal immigrants. It just gets old.

  • AlexSinclair (unverified)

    I'm a newly registered Independent, that refuses to continue to support a party that rewards illegal aliens and their children, to the detriment of America and her middle and working class families. The other issues; health-care, environmental, education, etc., will be irrelevant if America becomes a 3rd world nation. A nation with shortages of basics(ie: water, food) and Latin America's crime rates that are 3 times ours.

    With the DREAM Act... our NATION and Americans were once again being betrayed by corrupt and deceitful Senators, such as Feinstein, McCain, Clinton, Brownback, Obama etc., who have sold their greedy souls to racist organizations such as LA RAZA, whose motto is "For The Race everything. Outside The Race, nothing." and MEChA, who declare that their blood is the power and destiny of the United States(Aztlan) and not the foreign Europeans(AMERICANS). (These words come straight from official LA RAZA and MEChA sites at Georgetown University, the University of Texas, UCLA, University of Michigan and numerous other universities (although recently with the outcry against illegals colonizing the US, they've been hiding their objective better)).

    I'll vote for the canidates who have not been bought and paid for by ethnic and business organizations. Canidates that have heard the roar of hundreds of thousands of angry Americans shouting HELL NO to the INSANITY that corrupt politicians are shoving down our throats!

  • irene (unverified)

    I agree with AlexSinclair. I am closer to Democrats in most of my views, however, this year I am definitely VOTING REPUBLICAN. I am tired of Democrats betraying the interests of American citizens and pandering to law-breakers. BTW, I am an immigrant myself - LEGAL one, who had to follow the due process and never complained. The audacity of queue jumpers pisses me off.

  • Dr Coles (unverified)

    Illegal Aliens and Immigration is NOT the same thing.

    Illegal aliens in America have NO rights. We are required by law to arrest and prosecute, deport them. (Title 8 U.S. Code)

    No, matter your political party affiliation, and setting aside your thoughts on issues. We all need to remember what it is to be an American Citizen. We need to make sure our elected representatives obey their Oath of Office and keep their Oath of Allegiance.

    See http://tinyurl.com/2znnvl Know whom you are voting for.

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    Echo Oregonian37.

    That none of those supposedly concerned with securing our borders are calling for a fence along the Canadian border tells me that their issue is more about race than anything else.

    Illegal immigration is illegal and ought not to be condoned. But singling out just the brown-skinned illegals for special treatment is patently racist. I just don't see any way around that conclussion.

  • Rick Hickey (unverified)

    A Fence is being built on the Mexican border because the D.E.A. say that 80-90% of all METH, Cocaine & Heroin come from the southern Border, not Canada.

    Our Schools are not overburdened with people that only apeak French(Canada), they are flooded with those that speak Spanish.

    Pew Research says that 85% of Illegal Aliens are from Mexico & Latin America, not Canada.

    The Canadain Gov't has never called Illegal Aliens "Heroes" nor said "Doing the jobs even BLACK people will not do"- Pres. Vincente Fox of Mexico.

    The Canadian Gov't does not publish over 1.5 million booklets on how to avoid the Border Patrol.

    YES, DEMOCRATS will lose Elections because their agenda is to support Illegal Aliens with a zillion excuses not to suport American & LEGAL immigrants who are paying the price. This 2007 State Legislative session and Federal Congressional session are all the proof I need.

  • Gary Killpack (unverified)

    how about making the US corporations that are outside our boaders, pay the minimum wage that is enforce here? this may stop the reason for traveling to this country for a better wage. we are now trying to bail out a river with a tin cup, and think building a damn will stop the water. it is nuts.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    In the many comments on illegal immigration in various media there is a preponderance of opinions that essentially see law enforcement as the way to resolve this problem. If only it were that simple. Instead, we need to go beyond what appear to be quick solutions that are more likely to become failed and expensive policies.

    Aristotle made an observation that nearly 2,500 years of history have proved valid: Poverty is the parent of crime and revolution. He might very well have added migration as a third disruptive stepchild. That is why we should be looking at the factors causing people to leave their homelands for what they hope to be another that will give them a chance to live in decent conditions.

    The governments of the United States and other wealthy nations have implemented agreements such as NAFTA, CAFTA and GATT and sponsored institutions such as the World Trade Organization and the World Bank to boost the already obscene profits of the corporations that own them. Although politicians and trade negotiators allege that these instruments were intended to eliminate poverty, the sordid fact is that Mexico and other nations throughout Latin America, Africa and Asia have become more impoverished while multi-national corporations have prospered.

    Continuing to convert the United States into more of a police state with penitentiary-like borders is not the answer to illegal immigration. For a fraction of what these draconian tactics would cost and with the intelligence that is absent from current proposals, we would be more effective promoting programs that would help people make a decent living in their own nations and allow them to stay there with their families, which is most likely what most of would prefer in the first place.

    Applying band-aids to wounds has no benefit when antibiotics or other therapy is called.

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    Unfortunately this one doesn't fit well into sound bites as there are a whole bunch of facts that are relevant and push principled people into some pretty unholy alliances.

    As for the DREAM act itself, it seems extrordinarily cruel to punsh people who illegally crossed the border when they were infants for the sins of their parents. It's also really stupid to roadblock access to higher eduaction as education is the very best antidote that we possess to fight crime and poverty.

    The argument that insufficient attention is paid to illegal immigrants from Canada is just pathetic. There are not 11 to 15 million Canadians spreading out through the US economy, keeping the cost of housing, food, and services artificially low, at the sexpense of legal workers.

    The alliances that wind up forming are apalling on all sides.

    Those of us that think that US immigration laws ought to be enforced, are allied with the worst of the loonie Racist Right, who fear......well.......too many things to list and for all the wrong reasons. Thus it's easy for our opponents to smear (Sorry Novickies, there's that verboten word again) and dismiss our opinions as being unworthy of serious consideration.

    Meanwhile, the Kumbaya Kidz are allied with their worst Right wing Corporatist enemies in keeping those wages depressed and aiding in the continued decimation of the Blue Collar Middle Class. They don't have to answer for their position becuase after all, they are just being compassionate (with my wages, of course), and besides, don't I get that this is all the fault of really, really, destructive trade policies.

    Actually I do get it, and will make common cause with you regarding Fair Trade issues, while retaining my commitment to my vanishing class, and will continue to demand enforcement against employers who are taking advantage of this wedge.

  • JUSTIN (unverified)

    democrats will lose!!!!

  • genop (unverified)

    As the dollar plummets and more manufacturing moves south of the border, so too will the illegals. Soon we will have labor shortages and no one to do physical, monotonous work. The cost of living here, and quality of life will continue to diverge exponentially. When the gulf between rich and poor widens further, who will want to leave their homeland to relocate to the home of the rich and land of the poor. Wait, I forgot to factor in the vast drug market here. Hmm? I guess, the export imbalance will shift - if it hasn't already. Who knows the value of all those drugs which enter the marketplace? Meantime we'd best get to reforming the wii playing, girth expanding, entitlement expecting, youth drug consumers to go work in the fields for minimum wage. -Thats the ticket. Wistfully awaiting my wintertime Mexican holiday.

  • Gil Johnson (unverified)

    It's astonishing to me that so many people, including some of those posting above, are planning to vote Republican because of a single issue--illegal immigration.

    If somehow the President of the United States could wave a magic wand and make all the illegal aliens disappear, there still will be a disastrous war in Iraq and an impending bigger disaster in Iran. There still will be skyrocketing health care costs and plummeting health insurance coverage. There still will be many huge problems with education. There still will be enormous corporate greed and Gilded Age levels of income inequality. China still will own too much of the U.S. debt and make too many goods sold in the U.S. Incompetent federal bureaucracies run by former industry representatives still will be corrupting the regulatory system. And we'll still have to deal with global warming.

    The Republicans have no answers to any of these issues--in fact, hardly address them as issues at all. Thee Democrats at least recognized these issues and have some answers. So the Republicans are going to try to turn the entire election on one hot issue in which they do have an answer (though a rather simplistic one).

    So Democrats, let's figure this out. I'm sure you have noticed that Latinos are not just busing tables and making beds in hotels any more. They not only are working better-paying construction jobs, but some of them own construction firms. They deliver the morning paper, fill up the car at the gas station, cook in many other ethnic restaurants. Now not all of these workers are illegal immigrants and not all are even immigrants. But you can bet safely that a considerable percentage are illegal. So it's not just jobs that other Americans won't do. And now it's jobs that other Americans won't do because the pay is too low.

    So again, I ask the Democrats who frequent BlueOregon, what is the Democratic position? Or what is being advocated that makes sense?

  • whatsuva (unverified)

    The far right Republicans are selfish pricks. They only think about themselves, and their own comforts, regardless of whom falls victim as a result. Now, they've shown that not even children of illegal immigrants deserve any compassion, despite that they would be going to the military and college. By no measure of fairness, is this fair. They're unconscionable. Anyone who has a conscience would be sick & tired of their egotistic pattern.

  • genop (unverified)

    The solution should be employer driven. Those on the payroll should be granted work visas. The immigration laws should be enforced. Screw amnesty, we need these otherwise responsible employees to be legal.

  • George (unverified)

    If we don't enforce our borders and immigration laws the United States as we know it will cease to exist. Now I know some of the Caucasian hating America blamers would really like to see that happen. I don't.

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    Now I know some of the Caucasian hating America blamers would really like to see that happen.

    Racism isn't the answer.

  • jfe (unverified)

    Illegal immigration is a realignment issue.

    People who perfer the status quo from both the right and the left -- don't want border control and illegal immigration to take hold as an issue.

    But I got news for you, it is an issue of realignment!

    Frankly, this is a good thing for many reasons, but two stand out:

    1. We are all Americans and the current sterile divisions in our politics are outmoded. When Americans come together for a common purpose, it's a good thing.

    2. Calling somebody "racist" at the drop of a hat is a mindless intimidation tactic, not meant for real discussion or debate, but to shutdown reasoned back and forth. The "race" card is out of gas.

    Americans of all political stripes should be concerned with sovereignty issues.

    Thankfully, Americans are concerned and have demonstrated flexibility in America's politics.

    Ossification (turning into bone) of American politics is bad for America because permanent and increasing divisions weaken America's ability to respond to challenges.

    The "inbox" is full.

  • trishka (unverified)

    is it just me or is this conversation downright bizarre?

  • (Show?)

    Nope, not just you Trishka.

  • jfe (unverified)

    The far-left has lost control of the illegal immigration debate in the Democratic party.

    Democrats who believe in border control are letting their voices be heard.

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