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Edwards Pressed on Immigration in Iowa

WILLIAMSBURG, IOWA--If Hillary Clinton seemed confused about how to answer a question about illegal immigrants getting driver's licenses, it may not only have been because she was looking toward the general election.

Even among Democrats, there is grave concern about illegal immigrants in Iowa, a state that is more than more than 95 percent white and 4 percent Hispanic, according to 2005 Census Bureau estimates.

"We have a war going on and we're paying for hospital care, children in school [for illegal immigrants]?" a woman pointedly asked John Edwards in Williamsburg Iowa over the weekend. When a person in the crowd said they had not heard the question, Edwards said the query was about one woman's "view" of immigration, suggesting he did not agree with her sentiments.

Edwards, like all of the Democratic presidential candidates, said he supported a way to allow illegal immigrants who are already in the country to become citizens. But he also noted that although he was opposed to huge barrier across the Mexican border, "there are some places where some fencing might do some good," a position Clinton has also taken. He drew loud applause when he said it was important to be "harder on employers who violate the law" by bringing in illegal immigrants to work for them.

Earlier in the day, asked about illegal immigration, he drew the loudest applause of his entire event in Charles City when he declared "you should learn to speak English if you want to be an American citizen."

--Perry Bacon Jr.

By Washington Post editors  |  November 5, 2007; 12:19 PM ET
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Posted by: framecop | November 9, 2007 6:42 AM | Report abuse

koremori shows us a perfect example of the conservative mindest.

It's always "THEIR" fault, and never has anything to do with "US."

Well, when every ignorant trade deal is passed by the Free Traders they claim that it's going to be good for U.S. workers and for workers in other countries, from NAFTA to CAFTA.

Well, I doubt that you were sitting around complaining about "illegal immigration" before NAFTA was passed. Most Americans were not.

I doubt that you were sitting around 25 years ago and complaining about U.S. jobs being outsourced.

The economic philosophy that has been adopted by the United States is the main problem, and it's easy for SIMPLEMINDED PEOPLE to sit around and scapegoat a "VILLAIN" that they create, because they can see that.

They can't see the trade agreements, and they don't realize that the boom in illegal immigration and outsourced U.S. jobs are all results of the free trade agenda in the United States.

Yes, Mexico is not perfect, but all of the illegal immigration problem starts with ECONOMIC AGENDAS.

The leadership in Mexico needs to reform it's system so that it stops producing economic refugees, and we need to put pressure on them to do so, instead of borrowing money from them to fund tax cuts for rich people, like Bush is doing.

A fence doesn't do jacksquat. Do we want to become Germany or China by building walls, which will be used to "KEEP US CAGED IN" in the future? Get a brain.

I'm not going to repeat what I said up thread, but there is a direct correlation between the increase in illegal immigration, the trade deals, the problems with the labor movement, and the fact that the oligarchs in Mexico have succeeded in creating what people like the Walton family want to create in the United States.

And they are sitting back laughing at people like koremori when s/he thinks another victim of the free trade agenda is the problem, instead of the ideology that's creating economic desperation for people worldwide.

When they talked about the world being flat, that's the flattening.

All of our livelihoods.

Posted by: framecop | November 9, 2007 6:40 AM | Report abuse

Edwards has been saying that about learning English for months, do some research.

Posted by: sfmandrew | November 6, 2007 5:04 PM | Report abuse

I'm inviting all those claiming that Edwards has been very specific on immigration or clear in his opposition to Spitzer plan to watch the debate in Philly gain. During the debate, Tim Russert asks to the candidates to raise their hands if they oppose the idea of giving driver licenses to illegal immigrants. THE ONLY CANDIDATE WHO RAISED HIS HAND THAT NIGHT WAS CHRIS DODD. So John Edwards is now doing what he is accusing Senator Clinton of doing;double-talk and flip-flop.

Posted by: jo1976 | November 6, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

check the farm bill for 288 biLLion$ which will be given mostly to the rich farmers sitting in their offices and using the poor illegals to give backbreaking labor on their behalf so they can receive their farm subsidies which are outrageous and unnecessary.

Posted by: lenmary47 | November 6, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Edwards in penalizing Corporations that hire illegals. We use to have stricter regulations regarding this. If companies don't hire illegals they won't come. My 19 year old step-son was killed in an accident, the other driver was an illegal without a valid driver's license hired and working as a truck driver for a company. He lived and received medical treatment. The company is owned by a politically conservative person who hires illegals and saves on employment costs. Even after the death of our son, I blame the company and it's personnel for hiring and allowing an illegal without a driver's license to drive a company truck. Not the illegal, all he wants to do is feed his family. I support John Edwards in his views and believe from experience, that it is the fault lies with the corporations/companies that hire these illegals.

Posted by: rugldy | November 6, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Obviously you are not a true american. Listen to you! Your comment is demanding and appaling. All borders should be closed. You must have a passport. And no atomatic citizenship. This is our country and if your country is so bad then you need to live there and fight for it. How about this. If you want to be an american citizen, then you must enlist into our military and fight for this country like we all have. But I don't see anyone of you willing to do that. You are distroying what we have worked so hard to build.

Posted by: lleague | November 6, 2007 10:49 AM | Report abuse

The Fourteenth Amendment is being abused by foreign nationals as a backdoor entrance to United States citizenship. Regardless of race, ethnicity or national origin, it is wrong to enter illegally and gain citizenship.

Posted by: BrianSDCA | November 6, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

help fight against illegal immigration. Join:

Posted by: sskyvickers | November 6, 2007 10:19 AM | Report abuse

14th amendement rocks. I wish we could go back and remove the automatic citizenship of all of these racist ,nativist, bigots who want ot take it away from everyone else.



Posted by: cstacee | November 6, 2007 9:55 AM | Report abuse


I bet you believe all the conspiracy theories also.

You make it sound like there are millions of "Illegals" purposely rigging elections by frudulently voting. Check with your local Board of Elections and research voter fraud before you make such vile statements. If what you believe is true, then how can the ignorant to our culture, non-English speaking "illegal" fraudulent voter know who to vote for?

By the way - the recent statistics fro the whole state of NC had 4 cases of voter fraud - and guess what - they were all white, bona-fide, American Citizens.


Posted by: cstacee | November 6, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Our elections are open to significant voter fraud. Boards of Elections across the country have not been checking the citizenship of voters. This is one of the essential requirements of voting in any local, state, or federal elections. Most Boards of Elections will readily admit that citizenship checks are not being done.

This opens up the possibility that voter fraud by non-citizens/illegal aliens could affect the outcomes of many political races across the country, especially with the number of close elections.

The following states currently grant or in the recent past have granted drivers licenses to illegal aliens:

(1) New Mexico
(2) Maine
(3) Hawaii
(4) Michigan
(5) Oregon
(6) Utah, has issued a different type of license to illegal aliens after 2005
(7) Washington
(8) Maryland
(9) North Carolina until August, 2006
(10) Tennessee until May, 2007

Elections in these states are certainly open to fraud by illegal aliens since they possess government issued photo identification needed to cast a ballot at a polling center.

Elections in other states are at risk due to the reciprocity agreements between states to exchange drivers licenses between these states and those that do not "originally" grant these licenses to illegal aliens. These new drivers licenses are granted without citizenship checks.

Voters are signing affidavits affirming their US citizenship under penalty of perjury. However, significant numbers of illegal aliens have procured and presented false documents for employment purposes and to obtain other benefits given only to US citizens. This evidence suggests that the mere penalty of perjury will not deter non-citizens from falsely affirming their US citizenship for voting purposes. They have a large stake in the outcomes of local, state, and federal elections.

I ask what will be done to prevent voter fraud from non-citizens affecting the outcomes of our election processes?

Posted by: rwamail | November 6, 2007 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Politicians and Americans for that matter should take a look at "American Harvest." Its a non-partisan feature length documentary about immigration as it relates to agriculture. It presents the facts as they are without political bias.

American Harvest Synopsis

Anti-immigration sentiment sweeps across America. A journey from Florida to New York, including a trip to the Mexican border, reveals the lives and issues of legal and illegal migrants and farmers working toward a better life. Is the immigration system in America flawed? Immigrants are dying to feed America.

American farmers and agriculture rely on immigrants to do jobs that Americans won't do or feel that are simply beneath them. Some only see the problems in the news from the perspective of those extreme points of view of the left and the right side of our political system.

Discrimination of immigrants has existed in the United States since the English persecuted the Irish. It was once generally considered that if you were Greek or Southern Italian you were not white.

American Harvest points out the inconsistencies of the current policy on immigration. See the changing face of immigrant America as it relates to Agriculture.

Follow legal and illegal farm workers and the farmers caught in the middle of a flawed immigration policy.

Posted by: nyfilmmaker | November 5, 2007 11:39 PM | Report abuse

americans are stupid we have sold our country for a few million illegals to work cheap wages the democrats want illegals given ammnesty so they will vote for themnow our great nation is a basket case twenty more years we will be a third world country we have no oil owe trillions massive semi welfare programs most americans get back more from medicare and medicaid in the last six months of there lives than they ever paid taxes on in there entire life check this out

Posted by: gcallahan222aolcom | November 5, 2007 11:12 PM | Report abuse

americans are stupid we have sold our country for a few million illegals to work cheap wages the democrats want illegals given ammnesty so they will vote for themnow our great nation is a basket case twenty more years we will be a third world country we have no oil owe trillions massive semi welfare programs most americans get back more from medicare and medicaid in the last six months of there lives than they ever paid taxes on in there entire life check this out

Posted by: gcallahan222aolcom | November 5, 2007 11:12 PM | Report abuse

americans are stupid we have sold our country for a few million illegals to work cheap wages the democrats want illegals given ammnesty so they will vote for themnow our great nation is a basket case twenty more years we will be a third world country we have no oil owe trillions massive semi welfare programs most americans get back more from medicare and medicaid in the last six months of there lives than they ever paid taxes on in there entire life check this out

Posted by: gcallahan222aolcom | November 5, 2007 11:10 PM | Report abuse

It is time to decide if these parties are truly representing the American people. After all, we are the ones who put them in office. Perhaps we should look at Independent candidates as well.

Posted by: lkleaz | November 5, 2007 9:05 PM | Report abuse

sdraoul, where are your facts that support your claims about illegal immigrants paying their way?

The government states there anywhere from 12-20, while other groups estimate that there could be up to 30 million. While the illegal immigrants do pay some taxes, the taxes paid by legal and illegal workers with lower paying jobs do not offset the high cost of health care, schooling and other public assistance entitlements which they receive, especially when they have large families. The objection is not with Mexicans or any other nationality, but with out of control illegal immigration by people from all over the world.

Posted by: BrianSDCA | November 5, 2007 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Framecop, spare us the liberal guilt.

Mexico has been a mess all its history. That has been obvious since they managed to lose a war in which small volunteer American armies easily trounced huge professional Mexican armies that had every advantage of numbers and terrain. On paper, Mexico should have easily won the Mexican war.

Mexico's problems, like all of Latin America's, trace from their supreme misfortune in inheriting the most dysfunctional, reactionary, ignorant political culture of 18th century Europe. We did not cause them. We did not create them. And no matter what Mexico believes, we owe them nothing.

Posted by: koremori | November 5, 2007 8:07 PM | Report abuse


Go to his website and check the specific answers to your questions.

Posted by: jeremiahfp | November 5, 2007 7:18 PM | Report abuse

First, there aren't 20 million illegals. secondly, every cent that is spent on illegals is covered by the taxes they pay in their rents (property taxes), Social Security, income taxes and, where there are sales taxes, in sales taxes. Thirdly, other countries are begging for Mexican workers--Canada and Spain and the state of Hawaii that imports them to pick pineapple because Hawaiians won't do the work. That's enough said, the critics who posted above lack facts. Without facts, they have little to offer. They might note that Mexicans have a higher naturalization rate than immigrant Canadians adn that citizenship applications of Green Card Mexicans are up by 300% even though the fees have been hugely increased. The Mexicans are here to stay abd the more there are the worse the critics will display their hysteria. Hysteria loses in the long run.

Posted by: sdraoul | November 5, 2007 5:51 PM | Report abuse

I have always voted for the Democrats and despised the Republicans, primarily for their views on business interests vs. the environment and the rich getting richer, but any candidate that supports any form of amnesty will never get my vote.

It is wrong to reward any of the 20 million people with legal residency or citizenship that have entered illegally or overstays a visa. This would encourage disrespect of other laws and encourage more illegal immigration. A strong message needs to be given that illegal immigration is wrong and will not be accepted.

The fourteenth amendment needs to be changed to exclude automatic citizenship for anyone born here that does not have at least one parent of United States citizenship. This is as much a draw for illegal immigration as employment. It is even taken advantage of to the point that well to do foreign nations "vacation" here to give birth so their child will have United States citizenship. What other countries are so naïve to allow this form of instant citizenship?

Posted by: BrianSDCA | November 5, 2007 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Illegal Aliens and Immigration is NOT the same thing. 80% of the American people want an end to anarchy!

Illegal aliens are criminals, those who hire them are criminals and those who aid-and-abet them are criminals.

Illegal aliens in America have NO rights. We are required by law to arrest and prosecute, deport them. (Title 8 U.S. Code) To report illegal aliens call the DHS National Hotline 1 866 DHS 2ICE. (1-866-347-2523)

No, matter your political party affiliation, and setting aside your thoughts on issues. We all need to remember what it is to be an American Citizen. We need to make sure our elected representatives obey their Oath of Office and keep their Oath of Allegiance. See Know whom you are voting for.

Posted by: DrColes | November 5, 2007 5:01 PM | Report abuse

I'd add that the real problem is trade agreements like NAFTA (No Americans For This Assignment) and CAFTA (Central America Flee To America), and the decline of organized labor in this country.

Decades ago, the borders were even more open than they are today, and you didn't have people trying to come into this country illegally, like they are now. Part of the reason then, was that unions were strong, and against it, because they knew it would drive down their wages. Also, because trade was to the advantage of U.S. workers and jobs. We had high tariffs that protected U.S. Companies weren't just outsourcing jobs like they are today, and driving down wages globally.

Now, the conservative economic policies (neoliberalism to the Europeans), have "flattened the world", and driven down wages in the United States while the cost of living has gone up.

What this has in turn done is cause Americans to freak out. They know something is wrong, but they aren't sophisticated enough politically to explain it.

So, they do like most people do. Like those 90% that scuncic mentioned.

They look for a GROUP to scapegoat.

It used to be the Native Americans whose land they stole.

Then it was the African Americans who they kidnapped from their land and brought over here as slaves.

There've been others in between, here and there, but now it's "Mexicans." Illegal immigrants.

The problem is with the economic and trade policies that people like Rush Limbaugh, George W. Bush, and most of the GOPers in Congress embrace.

It destroys U.S. wages and jobs.

The policies that the GOP embraces are the same ones that destroyed Mexico and caused those people to be in the conditions that they are that would make them so desperate that they would cross a desert to seek a better life.

So, those insane trade policies have "unsettled" Americans, and now they see other peoples flooding in trying to compete for the same jobs, and they do just like most people do...

...they focus on the PEOPLE instead of the puppetmasters behind the curtains.

U.S. citizens who are against illegal immigration and the illegal immigrants themselves are victims of the same broken trade system that was always intended to impoverish regular, hardworking people, and increase the profits of the wealthy few.

If most Lou Dobbs voters had a brain, they'd be trying to team up with the illegal immigrants to change policies in the United States and in Mexico, because that's REALLY what the wealthy elites would fear.

There are only like 8-10 wealthy families in Mexico that pretty much control everything. The same scheme is underway in the United States led by people like the Waltons (Wal-mart) who are trying to get rid of every tax on the wealthy, like the inheritance tax.

Meanwhile, U.S. citizens are foaming at the mouth over illegal immigration, illegal immigrants are running from their country instead of trying to change it, and the wealthy few in both countries are sitting back laughing at all of you.

Posted by: framecop | November 5, 2007 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Fencing is the biggest waste of time since Bush becoming President.

The main things we need to do in this country are:

1) Institute a three strikes and you're out policy for employers, meaning the first two times you get hit with extreme fines, and the third time your company is dissolved (i.e., the corporate death penalty). Companies like Tyson Foods are going across the border and actively recruiting Mexican citizens. First time, hit a company that large for $15,000 for each non-legal worker. Second time, hit them for $30,000 for each one. The third time, Tyson Foods no longer exists.

2) Force the Mexican government to reimburse the U.S. government for every hospital bill or any other expenses for Mexicans citizens that U.S. taxpayers covered. Mexico is one of the wealthiest countries on the planet. Bush is borrowing money from Mexico to fund tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. They have the money. Get it from then.

No longer can the United States just sit back silently and let the Mexican oligarchs running that country just continue producing "ECONOMIC REFUGEES" who feel like they need to flee to the United States to make a living. Mexico is a wealthy country. If we can pressure other countries around the world, we can embarrass Mexico and pressure them to reform for the good of their citizens, as well. The wealth is there.

3) Get rid of the "law of the land" and move to the "law of the blood." The law of the land is out-dated. There is no further need to say that if non-citizens have a child here then that child automatically becomes a U.S. citizen. That's like when the Bible says, "be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth." With 6.5 million people and dwindling resources, the earth is plenty full, and there's no need to keep overpopulating. Well, the United States has 300 million people, and there's no need to keep saying that everyone born here is a citizen. If the parents aren't citizens, the children shouldn't be citizens, unless the parents have an application for citizenship that's going through the system at that time, and even in that case, citizenship for the child should only be "pending," in case the application is denied.

Nothing that I just said is "mean-spirited." It's all logical, and makes perfect sense.

There are laws, and every country on the planet has them. Some European countries are even harder to emigrate into than through the U.S. system. Heck, it's not like we can just waltz into Canada to the north, and automatically be welcome as Canadians.

We have to go through the process, and if we tried to get around it, they aren't going to just say, "Well, you know what. They broke the law, but so what? Who cares?"

Posted by: framecop | November 5, 2007 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Edwards proposal for a pathway for citzenship is racist,

The majority of those who will get preferential citizenship (get to stay in the country while waiting) are hispanic.

No other race, ethic group has the same ability to walk across the border to come in illegally to get the preferntial citiznship. Plus it is being done to boost the Democratic Party's memmber ship.

That is discriminatory and not equal protection of the laws under our constitution.

Posted by: Bettybb | November 5, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

It's true. All Demoncrats want to give amnesty to the "ILLEGAL ALIENS". They just don't understand that 90% of Americans want them out of this COuntry. Can 90% of the people be wrong?
I guess Ann Coulter is right. If Democrats had any brains, they'd be Republicans. The Democrats MUST learn, you don't reward CRIMINALS!!!

Posted by: scuncic | November 5, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Perry Bacon: if you want to do some real reporting - instead of just being a good transcriptionist - how about asking Edwards about the huge flaws in his positions?

For instance, he wants to put **everyone living in the U.S.** on the "path". That is literally insane. A candidate for president proposes a literally insane idea, and the press is too weak or corrupt to point that out? Is this the Soviet Union or something?

How about at least pointing out that the English comment is just a fleck of sugar to make the amnesty go down? I realize that and I'm willing to state that, and I'll bet you could do the same!

(Contrary to what's written in a comment above, illegal immigration can indeed be a criminal felony.)

Posted by: LonewackoDotCom | November 5, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

It appears to me that all Democrats favor allowing law breakers to break the law and then rewarding them so they will vote Democratic in the future.

I support NumbersUSA. I only wish Democrats would support Americans.

Posted by: mlimberg | November 5, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

my party is finally hearing what we working Americans think. Join to fight illegal immigration and greedy employers.

Posted by: sskyvickers | November 5, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

He is for "Comprehensive Immigration Reform", which pretty much says it all if you read the bill they tried to pass off as "Comprehensive Immigration Reform"
The bill is on the web, the Congressional Record has the debate, there are both partisan and nonpartisan sites that rate the voting records.

They like to say that the majority of people were for the law, the forget to mention of those familar with the law, the majority against it. As they forget to mention that when asked about individual points of the law, people were against the main provisions of the law, and people did not feel that the enforcement measures would be enforced. Indeed, the GAO said the enforcement measures were not actually required, and the money "for enforcement" could be used to fund the "amnesty" provisions.

Depending on what you believe "amnesty" means it was "amnesty" or not, I don't really care about a word, its the effect of the law I am concerned with.

Posted by: win1 | November 5, 2007 2:01 PM | Report abuse

He's been very specific, and the answers to all your questions, peter, are on his website issues section.

He's opposed to the Spitzer plan in NY, which Clinton supports.

He's in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, which combines enhanced border security with a process that allows those here illegally to pay the fines they owe (illegal immigration is not a criminal felony), to go to the back of the line to apply for legal status, and then if they obtain legal status (clean background) and learn English, will be eligible (on the same basis as anyone else) for naturalization. Thats a "path to citizenship" and Clinton has said more or less the same thing -- minus the English requirement -- on most occasions. Her website does not have a clear position.

With respect to driver's licenses, he favors allowing only those who are here legally, who are on the "path to citizenship" to obtain driver's licences, if the state opts for that approach.

Clinton's position appears to be similar, though she has not said if states should those who are here without legal status should be ineligible for driver's licenses.

To repeat, the question at the debate was specifically against the Spitzer plan. Edwards is against it. Clinton was for it before she was against it; she's now for it again.

Posted by: gbrown | November 5, 2007 1:53 PM | Report abuse

So Edwards is being hoisted on his own petard.

What is his position on immigration? Where does he favor fencing, how did he answer the woman's question? Did he dodge the question? What way does he want illegals in the Country to become citizens- someone should call Edwards on the specifics- he is fond of calling Hillary on them?

Posted by: peterdc | November 5, 2007 1:28 PM | Report abuse

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