News Americas, MIAMI, FL, Fri. Aug. 31, 2018: A lot has been written and said about Senator John Sidney McCain, III, in the past few days since his death on the afternoon of August 25, 2018. But few have focused on McCain, the Republican advocate for comprehensive, bi-partisan immigration reform.
In fact, while he battled brain cancer, McCain remained a vigilant, fair-minded Republican, whose support of rational immigration reform hardly ever wavered in the days prior to his death and lives on in his memoirs.
On June 18th, in the midst of the family separation crisis at the border, created by the draconian zero tolerance policy of Donald Trump, McCain took to twitter to slam the policy as “an affront to the decency of the American people.”
He also tweeted that it was “contrary to principles and values upon which our nation was founded” and urged the administration to rescind it “now.”
A day later, the senator was back on Twitter, telling his 3.22 million followers that he had sent a letter to Delaware Senator Chris Coons urging the Trump administration to withdraw the nomination of Ronald Mortensen to lead the US Refugee and Migration center, a top State Department position overseeing refugees.
McCain said Mortensen had spread “misinformation about immigrants and displayed a lack of empathy for innocent people fleeing oppression.”
Mortensen as you may know is an outspoken critic of illegal immigration who previously worked as a foreign service officer; is a fellow at the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies think tank, which advocates tighter immigration restrictions in the U.S. and also founded the Utah Coalition on Illegal Immigration, which calls for the U.S. to take “concrete action” to address the “serious problem” of illegal immigration.
McCain consistent fight to overhaul the immigration system continued throughout most of his career. He championed major pieces of immigration legislation in 2006, 2007 and 2013, but none became law.
He also spent quite a bit of time voicing his frustration on this lack of passage in his upcoming memoirs titled: “The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights and Other Appreciations.”
In a chapter titled “Fighting the Good Fight,” McCain praised U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., his late colleague and collaborator on comprehensive immigration reform in the mid-2000s.
The original McCain-Kennedy legislation, while unsuccessful, created the broad framework for subsequent bipartisan reform efforts: a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have settled in the United States; border-security upgrades; and a foreign-worker program.
“We failed twice, and then once more after Ted had passed away, despite big majorities in both houses of Congress in favor of it,” McCain and co-author Mark Salter wrote.
He vented his frustrations about those who have stood in the way of reforms such as the path to citizenship or guest-worker program and complained of “broadly popular, eminently fair, and workable” immigration fixes getting “buried” in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
“I’d like to say I’ll try again,” he added in the book. “But that is not up to me anymore. That’s a harder disappointment than other defeats have been because first, it’s something that most Americans want, and most members of Congress know is the right thing to do.”
McCain also described the hardline prescription to “round up all the ‘illegals’ and deport them” as bulls—t; and suggested that racism motivates some opponents of immigration reform.
But McCain left many with pearls of wisdom that congressional colleagues paying tribute to him in death can now use to truly celebrate his life and memorialize him.
As he wrote in the book, immigration reform is “something this country needs to do now, in this political moment, as old fears and animosities that have blighted our history appear to be on the rise again, exploited by opportunists who won’t trouble their careers or their consciences with scruples about honesty or compassion for their fellow man.”
Kennedy sadly died in 2009 of the same kind of brain cancer, glioblastoma, that took McCain’s life on August 25, 2018.
Isn’t it time the US congress quits offering thoughts and prayers to the families of these two American stalwarts and truly honor their memory by making the comprehensive immigration bill they spent so many years of their life fighting for, a reality?