February 16, 2007

Tim Pawlenty On John McCain, Part II

Ed Morrissey: Well lets talk a little bit about the couple of issues that have -- conservatives concerned about John McCain's campaign.

Tim Pawlenty: Sure.

Ed Morrissey: That would be Campaign Finance Reform, which he pushed in 2002 and got passed the BCRA and integration reform which he partnered up with Ted Kennedy on last year, it didn't go through but it's certainly probably going to go through this year.

Tim Pawlenty: Yeah, on Campaign Finance Reform, you know, you have the -- a lot of conservatives who are concerned about it from a first amendment standpoint. I think it is fair to say that some reforms were in order because you have interest groups who were -- you know, yielding so much cloud and leading to -- I think -- back in old days number of scandals, that some cleaning up of the process or with improvement in the process was in order. I don't agree with all the aspects of you know, the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform and a lot of conservatives don't either but that should be, you know, put and the context of all the other things that he is conservative on and I think -- you know, McCain-Feingold does have some good -- some of the elements of McCain-Feingold are good. I think it just over reached in several ways.

Ed Morrissey: Well, do you think that Senator McCain would address those over reached, those positions that over reached and roll back some of that in the BCRA, do you think he would be in favor of doing that?

Tim Pawlenty: I've not heard him speak to that or say that. And so I can't comment on that. But he is not, to my knowledge, is indicative that he would do that?

Ed Morrissey: Well how about immigration reform? This is a tough question, because even conservatives are -- split on this. Immigration reform, Senator McCain favored comprehensive immigration reform, which was a plan to do order security and to resolve the status of 12 million roughly, illegal immigrants here inside, already inside the United States, as part of a package plan. Some conservatives are calling that amnesty; some are in favor of doing both as long as border security comes first. Where do you Senator McCain and how do you address the concerns of border security conservatives?

Tim Pawlenty: Well I think from conservatives' standpoint the order of business should go something like this. First of all secure borders, and that both physical why in terms of fences and technology but also virtually, so secure the borders number one. Number two, we need to make sure that we have a penalty that is significant for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants, because lets face it, a vast majority of illegal immigrants are coming here to take employment and the system that we've now is severely flawed because it's very difficult for employers to check or verify the legal status of immigrants that present a document which in many cases look real but are fake and short of conducting a international investigation, there isn't easy way to -- for employers to verify the legal status of immigrants but, which is my next point, I'll get to in just a minute, but we need to have a significant and upgraded penalty against employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants and if you start doing that against employers a lot of this illegal immigration will dry up. But then the third thing you need is, you need a tamper proof, fraud proof identity document for immigrants. You know, not for our citizens but for immigrants so that we know how long -- who you are, and we should have by the way biometric in it, who you are, how long you are supposed to be here and what's your legal status -- that can be instantly scanned by an employer or by Federal officials to make sure that your status is current and it's legal.

If you do those three things a lot of the illegal immigration will be addressed. Beyond that we've this issue of the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants who are currently in the country. I don't know of many even hardcore conservatives, there are few, but not many in congress who are advocating for rounding up 12 million people and throwing them out of the country.

Ed Morrissey: There are a couple.

Tim Pawlenty: There are a couple but -- even amongst the bulk of conservatives and then the other presidential candidates by the way as well, the issue isn't how do we round 12 million people and throw them out. The issue is how do you either get them some sort of proper identity and temporary legal status and what penalty should they pay, so it's not amnesty, everybody agrees, I mean most conservatives agree, we are not -- we shouldn't have the amnesty. So really what we are talking about is what is the proper penalty or punishment for those who came here illegally, so it's not amnesty. And Senator McCain has been working on this with members of congress as have others; but for those who criticize it and say well he is going to allow some sort of temporary legal status or may be even a pathway to permanent legal status and that's amnesty -- and that's what all the other candidates, that's what most -- most of the conservatives are actually saying, they are only really arguing about what is the degree or lever of penalty so that it's not amnesty and -- so I don't think that's out of step with -- that general line of debate, it's not out of step with where most republicans are. There you -- you see you are hard pressed to find many who are saying lets throw 12 million, lets mount a military offensive, identify 12 million people and round them up and throw them out of the country, it's not where even most of the republican members of congress are at. They are just talking about -- like I said the severity of the penalty for having come here illegally and Senator McCain agrees with that approach and we are just -- now we are working out the details.

Ed Morrissey: Do you see an issue with may be the length of delay in getting them their ability to achieve citizenship, I mean usually when we have immigrants who come to the United States, they've to wait for a few years to apply for citizenship.

Tim Pawlenty: I think you -- and each bill in congress is a little different but I think you have to do these other things first so that you would only just have a re-flooding of the country with illegal immigrants.

Ed Morrissey: Right.

Tim Pawlenty: So you know, sequencing this -- my hope is that as a nation we would focus on border security. Then making sure that those employer penalties are beefed-up in place, because if they are not, you know, you are just re-inviting another wave, and then third in order for the employer penalties to be reasonably beefed-up you have to have a tamper proof, fraud proof identity document. So when somebody present themselves to you an employee you can instantly scan or verify whether they are legal or not. And then if you go ahead and knowingly hire and illegal immigrant then you should go to jail or face the severe and significant penalty. And if you do that a large majority of illegal migration will drop because they won't have -- they won't be incentivized by the main reason they are coming, which is to get a job. And then as to the people who are already here, I don't think they should jump in front of the line and neither do Senator McCain, and they should wait a period of time before they are eligible for any sort of path way to permanent status.


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