Peter Wallsten misleads about Lou Dobbs (now an amnesty supporter?)
Peter Wallsten (formerly of the Los Angeles Times, now with the Wall Street Journal) offers "Dobbs Reaches Out to Latinos, With Politics in Mind" (link), which contains this misleading statement (bolding added):
(Lou Dobbs) is working to repair what a spokesman conceded is a glaring flaw: His reputation for antipathy toward Latino immigrants. In a little-noticed interview Friday, Mr. Dobbs told Spanish-language network Telemundo he now supports a plan to legalize millions of undocumented workers, a stance he long lambasted as an unfair "amnesty."
Now, to help illustrate why Wallsten is being misleading, here's what Dobbs said (video here, bolding added):
What I have said from the very beginning... which a lot of people have chosen to ignore: that we need a rational, effective, humane immigration policy in this country... we need the ability to legalize illegal immigrants on certain conditions and we need to be able to influence the direction of the conversation right now toward securing the border because until we can control immigration we cannot meaningfully, subtantively alter immigration law because it would have no point if we cannot establish the basis for the control of the flow of people across that border.
That said, this is not a welcome development, and Dobbs appears to be changing his position from what it was earlier, if the following actually represents his position:
Mr. Dobbs couldn't be reached Tuesday. Spokesman Bob Dilenschneider said Mr. Dobbs draws a distinction between illegal immigrants who have committed crimes since arriving in the U.S. and those who are "living upright, positive and constructive lives" who should be "integrated" into society. He said Mr. Dobbs recognizes the political importance of Latinos and is "smoothing the water and clearing the air."
Now, compare that to what Dobbs said in March 2006 (link):
My position on what the Senate is doing is that it's an amnesty program. It is putting at least 11, as many as 20 million people, to the front of the line. We have a backlog of legal immigrants to this country of three million waiting naturalization and visas... It is an unconscionable act that pits the lowest paid two million Hispanic workers in this country against illegal, predominantly Hispanic illegal aliens, as demonstrated in a study by the Pew Hispanic Center. This is unconscionable. It is a sell-out. Something we're used to seeing on the part of this Congress and this administration, frankly. It's a sell-out to corporate interests and illegal employers who should be being punished not given a free pass, because middle class, hardworking men and women and their families are paying the price for this.
That sounds stronger than his comments above, however what he said after that buttresses the claim that he's in the "secure the border first, then an amnesty" school:
ROBERTS: Does the Sensenbrenner bill which would criminalize all undocumented immigrants in this country and also provide for construction of a 700-mile fence along the border, does that meet your criteria for what an immigration bill -- immigration reform bill does should look like?
DOBBS: Well, frankly no, John, it does not, but it is the best attempt and at least moving toward enforcement of our borders and security at our borders.
Look, we can't reform -- let's be really honest about it. We can't reform immigration in this country if we can't control immigration. And we can only control immigration if we control and secure our borders.
President Clinton putting millions of people who are in this country illegally on a path to citizenship as a first condition is simply amnesty. If we are to be a nation of laws, as you say, how can we possibly put forward as a condition precedent the reward of those illegal aliens with citizenship for breaking our laws and crossing our borders?
I have said for some time, and I would urge you to talk to your wife about this particular idea, Mr. Clinton, we cannot reform our immigration laws if we can't control immigration. And we can't control immigration unless we control our borders and our ports. I invite you to consider that syllogism and show me where it's wrong.
Now, this isn't quite as surprising as it may seem. Dobbs has always been a supporter of mass immigration, it's just illegal immigration that he used to complain about — that was better than anyone else in the MSM, for sure, but if you keep following the string you'll end up supporting either mass immigration, regardless of status, or low immigration, likewise regardless of status. Dobbs's (and many others') approach to immigration of "legal, good/illegal, bad" is logically untenable.
The amusing thing is that his "growth" isn't going to help him in any case - the open-borders crowd won't believe him and immigration hawks will dismiss him as just another McCain-style phony maverick.
He's right about the open (or just loose) borders crowd, but I'd suggest a more nuanced point of view for the other group. Dobbs is, obviously, one of the favorite targets of the loose border crowd and as such defending him can be used to discredit groups such as the National Council of La Raza. Whether he would support amnesty for all illegal aliens or whether he'd seek to limit it remains to be seen; he's not at the John McCain level, and that's easily seen by watching the full video.
On the video, he takes Telemundo anchor Maria Celeste to task for lying about Joe Arpaio; she falsely states that Arpaio has "clearly violated the civil rights of undocumented immigrants". That is false since Arpaio hasn't been charged and is just the target of a Department of Justice fishing expedition conducted by someone who appears to be a bit far-left. Dobbs sticks up for Arpaio and says that the DOJ investigation is "kangaroo court antics". He also objects to her spending several minutes on the leprosy story and then the federal incarceration story, basically spouting Southern Poverty Law Center talking points. He also takes her to task for equating "illegal aliens" with "Hispanic" and for assuming that all Hispanics think alike. McCain would never do any of that. On the minus side, at the beginning of the interview he apologizes for not speaking Spanish, mentions "a bridge to the future in which there is legalization" and refers to "a regulated flow of immigration within the control of U.S. authorities", which is highly similar to the safe legal orderly talking point. However, having watched dozens of those willing to sell out the U.S. - such as McCain - I'm not convinced that Dobbs is in that camp; he's just wrong.
The bottom line is that you take the good with the bad. Those who don't support amnesty under any conditions or who would only support it years from now under very strict conditions should support Dobbs as a way to oppose the unsavory loose borders types at the same time as trying to push him away from any amnesty. Not supporting him or trying to discredit him would be a very big mistake and would help some truly unsavory people.
UPDATE: It's important to differentiate between legitimate criticism of Dobbs (such as Krikorian's) and attempts by interested parties to separate him from his base. Some of those interested parties might be affiliated with or supporters of corrupt businesses that profit from illegal activity. Others might be partisan hacks who put the interests of the Republican Party ahead of the interests of the U.S.
Just imagine Menendez’s attack ads against [Dobbs]; he wouldn’t have to venture outside of Media Matters’s clip vault to gather enough material for the entire campaign.
There's a reason why Dobbs' opponents keep bringing up the leprosy story years after he issued a correction: they don't have that much material to work with. It wouldn't be that difficult to turn attacks against the attackers, and show voters that Media Matters for America and Bob Menendez are far-left supporters of massive illegal activity. If they or journalists outrageously lied, that could be used to discredit them. Their position as supporters of massive illegal activity is invalid, and it wouldn't be that difficult to show how invalid it is. If your goal is to help the U.S. by helping to reduce massive illegal activity, that's what you'd do. Some people have different priorities.