Ashcroft: Who Cares? He`s Useless on Immigration…
February 02, 2001, 04:00 AM
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Even as some left-leaning Democrats pronounced to a yawning world that they would vote against it, the confirmation of former Sen. John Ashcroft as President Bush's attorney general appeared certain.  Mr. Ashcroft has trod on the liberal toe on several different issues — abortion, homosexuality, civil rights and just plain "sensitivity" in general.  But on one subject he's virtually indistinguishable from his liberal enemies.  That issue is immigration.

For that reason, we have not been obliged to endure any liberal yattering about immigration during the Ashcroft hearings, and such moral paragons as Teddy Kennedy have been free to maunder about Mr. Ashcroft's wickedness in accepting an honorary degree from Bob Jones University.  Nevertheless, some on the left have succeeded in finding fault even with Mr. Ashcroft's immigration positions.

Thus, a brutish outfit known as MALDEF — the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund — unbosomed its opposition to the Ashcroft nomination last week.  MALDEF makes little pretense of disguising its own racial-nationalist agenda of promoting the interests and protecting (not to say inventing) the rights of Mexican-Americans.  Hence, in place of the "anti-immigrant" Mr. Ashcroft, as its spokes-hombres called the nominee, it demanded an attorney general who will "help Hispanics."

What MALDEF has against Mr. Ashcroft and why it claims he's "anti-immigrant" is that in 1996 the Missouri senator voted for a measure that, according to a MALDEF representative, would have denied "food stamps and Social Security payouts to naturalized citizens."  Because many such people are of Latino ancestry, she told the New York-based immigration control group Project USA, Mr. Ashcroft therefore "does not represent the interests of Latinos."

Well, as Ricky Nelson said, you can't please everyone.  But what the MALDEF malcontents succeed in proving is the utter futility of Republican pandering.

The truth is that both President Bush and Mr. Ashcroft are militantly pro-immigration.  So were at least two recent cabinet nominees, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and unsuccessful Labor Secretary nominee Linda Chavez.  The president himself is on record as saying he thinks we should have more immigration.  As for Mr. Ashcroft, his own voting record shows he can keep pace with the most liberal of Democrats on the immigration issue.

Thus, another immigration control group, Numbers USA, which monitors the voting records of congressmen on immigration, placed Mr. Ashcroft in the same category as former Black Caucus member William Clay and House Majority Whip Dick Gephardt on immigration issues, a category that includes congressmen who "have consistently pressed for high U.S. population growth, immigration, and foreign labor importation."  Not everyone from Missouri has the dubious honor to be in that category.

Mr. Ashcroft has voted for measures allowing continued chain migration, by which immigrants can import their family members in an endless chain that vastly increases immigration.  He has consistently voted for increases in the H-1B program that allows foreign workers to enter the United States to take high-tech jobs from American workers.  In 1997 he voted for an amnesty bill that would have legalized nearly a million illegal aliens from Nicaragua and Cuba and voted against a measure to help employers verify the legal status of their immigrant workers.  To say, on the basis of this record, that he's "anti-immigrant" is as preposterous as claiming he's a "white supremacist" because he praised Robert E. Lee.

But the point is that Mr. Ashcroft's liberal to left voting record on immigration issues isn't good enough for MALDEF, just as his support for black judicial nominees as a senator and the Martin Luther King holiday as governor of Missouri isn't good enough for the Afro-racists and their friends in the Senate.  The point is that, for all the pandering that Mr. Ashcroft and his fellow Republicans perform on immigration and racial issues, the least deviation from the party line will make you "anti-immigrant," "anti-Latino," "insensitive," "racist," and a "white supremacist."  President Bush has experienced much the same thing, and so did Miss Chavez.

The obvious lesson to learn is that, because pandering doesn't help, doesn't gain you a reputation for tolerance or sensitivity or whatever it is the pander party wants to gain, and certainly doesn't gain you either black or Hispanic votes or the political endorsement of their lobbying leviathans like MALDEF and the NAACP, then maybe you should give up pandering for good.

Unfortunately, the pander party has dismally failed to learn that lesson.  Despite the lack of support, concerted opposition and even outright hatred expressed for the Bush administration and the Republican Party by non-white leaders and their Democratic mouthpieces, Mr. Bush and his colleagues continue to pander.  What do you call a party that does not and cannot learn the obvious lessons of politics?  The word "stupid" keeps coming relentlessly to mind.

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February 02, 2001