In an interview with Mother Jones magazine, U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) showed that he just can't let go of his pro-amnesty views despite their liability to him in his run for the Senate seat in 2012.
I found his quotes in the article to be even more radical than anything he's ever said before, and that includes all of his work with Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) for a comprehensive amnesty.
When asked on Tuesday by Mother Jones whether he'd still support a pathway to legalization, Flake soft-pedaled his response but defended his previous views on immigration.
"I've always felt that, like I said, nearly half of those who are here illegally didn't sneak across the border. They came legally and have overstayed. So border security is the number one item, but you've got to do other things as well," Flake said in an interview just off the House floor.
OK, we're agreed with Mr. Flake that about half of illegal workers in this country did NOT cross a border illegally. Rather, they entered into some kind of contract with the United States that allowed them to visit this country for a short period of time with the promise that they would leave the U.S. and go back home when their visas expired.
And this half of illegal aliens broke their promise, violated their contract and have stayed in the U.S. breaking a good many other laws through stolen identification, document fraud and illegally obtaining jobs.
So, what should we do about all those "overstayed illegal aliens," Mr. Flake?
When pressed to clarify whether such measures would include a pathway for legalization, Flake agreed that "some mechanism" was necessary. "We've dealt with it before with a provision that required [undocumented immigrants] to go home and register," Flake said, appearing to refer to a provision in the STRIVE Act that would give qualified undocumented workers a six-year work visa—but also required them to "touch back" and return to their home countries before being able to become legal residents.
Why do we need "some mechanism" to allow these millions of overstayed illegal foreign workers to remain in the U.S. and continue to keep U.S. jobs out of reach of unemployed Americans?
Whether a straight-up amnesty or a touch-back amnesty, Mr. Flake seems to think the nation's response to foreign visitors who violate their visas should be to give them work permits to take U.S. jobs!
Good grief! Whose Senator is Mr. Flake proposing to be?
One would hope that Arizona would choose its next Senator from a pool of candidates who recognize that rewarding lawbreaking only encourages a lot more of that same kind of lawbreaking.
Can you imagine if a Sen. Flake were to succeed in giving work permits to all visa overstayers and sending the message to the tens of millions of foreign visitors to the U.S. each year that the expiration date on their visas isn't really important and if they are smart enough to violate the terms of their visa we very likely will just give them a permanent work permit?
What kind of anarchy is Jeff Flake proposing for us?
And for this kind of over-the top permissiveness toward violators of immigration laws, both Mother Jones and the Washington Post are calling him a leading MODERATE voice on immigration.
Both publications have agreed with most commentators that Flake is the front-runner to take the Senate seat being vacated by Jon Kyl in 2012 but that Flake does have an immigration problem with a lot of voters in Arizona who have repeatedly supported some of the nation's strongest state laws against illegal immigration.
Mother Jones used a NumbersUSA blog and emailed Alert to Arizonans to illustrate the problem:
Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) hadn't even announced his bid for retiring Sen. Jon Kyl's Senate seat when the first press releases attacking his unusually moderate views on immigration hit the newswires. Just after 1 a.m. on Monday—more than 12 hours before Flake officially launched his campaign—anti-immigration group Numbers USA blasted out a statement denouncing the congressman as "the Top Republican Amnesty Pusher in U.S. House." Networking hub ArizonaTeaParty.com quickly posted the attack on its site.
Mother Jones indicated that Mr. Flake may be able to win over Arizona conservatives who despise his position on immigration becasue he has a 100% rating from the American Conservative Union and because FreedomWorks, a national tea party ally, has already endorsed him for Senate. (Interestingly, both those groups are notoriously squishy on what to do about immigration).
The question is whether Flake's positions on immigration can be kept from enough Arizona voters, or whether he may eventually have to follow in the footsteps of the other Arizona Senator, John McCain, and abandon his leadership for high importation of foreign workers and amnesties for illegal aliens.
The rest of the nation will be depending on Arizona voters to straighten this out before their state inflicts the current version of Jeff Flake on the rest of us in the U.S. Senate.
ROY BECK is Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA
Updated: Wed, Feb 23rd 2011 @ 1:35pm EST