By Francis Wilkinson
Even Senator John McCain has surrendered. A steadfast supporter of immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship, McCain essentially acknowledged yesterday in Georgia that his party's anti-immigration forces have demolished any hope of soon legalizing the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
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McCain's assessment is as unimpeachable as it is irrational. In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, he said that, "I understand now, especially in my home state of Arizona, that these children coming, and now with the threat of ISIS … that we have to have a secure border."
Follow that? Immigration reform, including the legalization of millions of immigrants already living in the U.S., is on hold because tens of thousands of Central American children have surrendered to border authorities. Also, because a sadistic army is killing people in Syria and Iraq. McCain, often a summer soldier when the forces of demagogy call, was perhaps too embarrassed to link Ebola to the new orthodoxy; of course, others already have.
It's hard to see how Republicans walk this back before 2017 -- at the earliest. What began with the national party calling for immigration reform as a predicate to future Republican relevancy has ended with complete capitulation to the party's anti-immigration base. Conservatives are busy running ads and shopping soundbites depicting immigrants as vectors of disease, criminality and terrorism, a 30-second star turn that Hispanic and Asian voters, in particular, may not entirely relish.