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Palin Brings Confused Immigration Stance to Arizona

May 17, 2010

As she left office 10 months ago to earn $12 million, half-term Governor Sarah Palin declared, "It's all for Alaska." Now, joining Arizona Governor Jan Brewer in Phoenix t defend that state's draconian immigration law, Palin announced, "We're all Arizonans now." But while the latest roar from the Mama Grizzly is music to the ears of the Republican Party's xenophobic Tea Party base, her repeated calls for a "path to citizenship" for illegal immigrants most certainly is not.
That Palin would back Brewer's reelection effort is unsurprising. After all, each woman believes "God has placed me in this powerful position." And announcing her support for Brewer's "Secure the Border" campaign to fight back against economic boycotts of her state, Palin insisted that Arizona was an example for the rest of the nation to follow:

"It's time for Americans across this great country to stand up and say, 'We're all Arizonans now.' And in clear unity we say, 'Mr. President, do your job. Secure our borders.'"

But sadly for her ardent admirers on the right, Palin's clear message this weekend is muddied by her past confusion on the topic of immigration. While she refused to comment on whether she would back a guest worker program, for two years she has supported a "pathway to citizenship" for the undocumented,
For example, as she told Fox News' Sean Hannity last month:

"I think that President Obama is playing to his base on this one. And I think that's quite unfortunate because this isn't fair to the legal immigrants. It's not fair to illegal immigrants either...many of them want to come here and find that pathway to citizenship."

As it turns out, Sarah Palin's view on immigration remain something of a mystery, even to her most fervent supporters. (In her defense, as Governor of Alaska, Palin's border security challenges were limited to the occasional Canadian inadvertently snow-shoeing over the border from BC.) In March 2008, right-wing radio personality Laura Ingraham claimed Palin for the anti-immigration wing of the Republican Party:

"And she's not for comprehensive reform, I can tell you that right now. She's sick to death of this immigration nonsense in the United States."

But as John McCain's running mate, she walked the tightrope he (and the 2008 GOP platform) erected against "total amnesty" for illegal aliens while supporting that pathway to citizenship. That balancing act was on display during Palin's October 2008 interview with Univision:

As governor, how do you deal with them? Do you think they all should be deported?
There is no way that in the US we would roundup every illegal immigrant -there are about 12 million of the illegal immigrants- not only economically is that just an impossibility but that's not a humane way anyway to deal with the issue that we face with illegal immigration.
Do you then favor an amnesty for the 12 or 13 million undocumented immigrants?
No, I do not. I do not. Not total amnesty. You know, people have got to follow the rules. They've got to follow the bar, and we have got to make sure that there is equal opportunity and those who are here legally should be first in line for services being provided and those opportunities that this great country provides.
To clarify, so you support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants?
I do because I understand why people would want to be in America. To seek the safety and prosperity, the opportunities, the health that is here. It is so important that yes, people follow the rules so that people can be treated equally and fairly in this country.

To the dismay of her hard line supporters, Palin's cognitive dissonance on immigration reform continued after the election. Last night, she told Sean Hannity, "Governor Jan Brewer did what she had to do as the CEO of that state," adding, "To help protect the citizens of her state she had to do what the federal government has refused to do, and that is help secure the border." But back in January, she lamented to Glenn Beck:

"(We) are at fault when we allow the other side to capture this immigration issue...We need to continue to be so welcoming."

As in, "Welcome to Arizona. Where are your papers?"
Of course, Sarah Palin's jaw-dropping confusion on immigration is no barrier to speaking authoritatively about it in the name of all Americans. That skill she learned at the feet of the master. As Russian forces pounded the Georgian military in July 2008, John McCain similarly responded, "We are all Georgians now." Sadly for McCain, an EU commission later concluded that the initial Georgian assault was not "justifiable under international law."
Mercifully, John McCain didn't speak for all Americans then. And as even Congressmen from her own party reminded her, Sarah Palin doesn't now.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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