We had the pleasure of watching House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday morning. Host David Gregory went straight to immigration and asked Cantor about his “shifted stance” on the issue. This week, Cantor had this to say about immigration:
“While we are a nation that allows anyone to start anew, we are also a nation of laws, and that’s what makes tackling the issue of immigration reform so difficult,” he said. But “one of the great founding principles of our country was that children would not be punished for the mistakes of their parents.”
Whoa. I missed this somewhere in my studies of history and politics. I didn’t realize that one of our founding principles was that children would not be punished for the mistakes of their parents. But cool! Let’s roll with that moving forward.
Cantor reiterated that the best place to start with immigration reform is providing a pathway for citizenship for children who were brought to the U.S. through no fault of their own. (What about their parents, Mr. Cantor?) He insists that he is ”compassionate and sensitive to their [the children's] plight.”
“I think that a good place to start is with children and listen, we’ve got some… look, here’s the difficulty in this issue I think, and it is because we’ve got families that are here that become part of the fabric of our country, right? And we want to make sure that we’re compassionate and sensitive to their plight, I mean, these kids know no other place as home. On the other hand, we are a country of laws. You know, we have a situation with the border security that we’ve got to get straight. We have to secure our borders and there is this balance that needs to take place. But the best place to begin I think is with the children. Let’s go ahead and get that under our belt, put a win on the board and so we can promise a better life for those kids who are here due to no fault of their own.” (Source: Live Coverage)
And of course, he did unintentionally get to the heart of the matter and the reason for the GOP flip-flop on immigration.
“It’s no secret that there are more than 11 million
Hispanic voterspeople here illegally, many of whom have become part of the fabric of our country,” he said. “They, like us, have families and dreams.” (ABC News)
Awwwwww. Who besides me is feeling warm and fuzzy?
I am so loving this new Eric Cantor. Exactly as much as I’d love a bad guy who slapped me in Walmart and then apologized under duress after I chased him down and pinned to the ground. The bottom line: we will accept it, but don’t think for one minute that we believe his sincerity.
Here is what Cantor said about immigration two years ago (spoiler alert: he felt a little differently back in the day).
Cantor agreed that America has a “very antiquated” immigration system, but he drew a sharp line between legal and illegal immigration.
“The two have been very conflated in the public debate,” Cantor said, adding that laws should be enforced and legal immigrants should be encouraged.
Cantor drew an analogy by saying most Americans driving through a desolate Texas desert would stop at a stop sign even if there were no cars in sight.
“We are law-abiding,” Cantor said. “That’s part of the reason we are able to offer this great economic marvel of the American dream … because we have laws that are evenly applied.” (Daily Progress)
Cantor averted his eyes and refused to answer when Gregory pressed him on his shift in position and movement towards the center on immigration reform, and seemed especially uncomfortable with the question “Are you willing to go all in [on immigration reform]?” Canton stayed close to his warm-fuzzy immigrant children response and ignore everything else about the question. But…
When Gregory asked Cantor if he supported The Dream Act, Cantor, rather than answer the question, offered the baffling response:
“I have put out a proposal. I don’t know what the Dream Act at this point is. What I say is we’ve got a place, I think all of us can come together and that is for the kids.”
You can watch him say it in this video:
Ummm…OK. So what he’s saying is that he wants to create a pathway to citizenship for children who were brought to this country illegally and have never known any other life, but he wants to NOT call it The Dream Act. Because that would, well…give credit to Democrats. Cantor wants to try to somehow skew the reality and convince U.S. Hispanic voters that the GOP came up with this fabulous idea all on their own. “Look at us and how benevolent we are.”
He did, however, vote against The Dream Act in 2010, so he knew what it was then. Someone catch me up on this. Has it changed so drastically that he now doesn’t know what it is?
Cantor is oh so supportive of immigrant children. His warmth and sincerity just melts my heart. Not. However, I can overlook his affront to the hard work that Democrats have been doing for decades to make a pathway to citizenship for hard-working illegal immigrants and their equally hard working children. We all now seem to (unbelievably) have the same goal, though it’s for different reasons. We Democrats have never wavered in our reason for supporting immigration reform: it’s the right thing to do. The GOP’s sudden shift is embarrassingly transparent and we won’t allow them to “save face” and pretend that it was their idea all along. Why won’t we? Are we just letting our own big egos get in the way? No. We won’t let them save face because what we know is that if they have an opportunity to return to their prior disgusting mindset - “electric fence” and “self-deport” - they will do so in a heartbeat.
We’ll welcome them on the ride to progress because IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO; but they are going to do it our way and it would be really cool if they would all (not just a select few of them) acknowledge their previous wrong and be honest about why they’re shifting.
I’m giving Cantor the benefit of the doubt here and hoping that he does know what The Dream Act is…and is just, as usual, being a jerk.
I am an unapologetic member of the Christian Left, and have spent a lot of time working with “the least of these” and disadvantaged and oppressed populations. I’m passionate about their struggles. To stay on top of topics I discuss, subscribe to my public updates on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me via LinkedIn. I also have a grossly neglected blog. Find me somewhere and let’s discuss stuff.