by Andy Kirchoff
With Rick Santorum’s recent rise in the polls, scrutiny of his Senate record has become far more prevalent; his conservative orthodoxy (and lack thereof) have been dissected and evaluated by many commentators at this point, and there’s very little reason to re-hash those criticisms here. However, Santorum’s positions on immigration issues seem to have skated by most conservatives, including those of the pro-immigration reform bend. This post aims to remedy that.
Given Santorum’s familial background (which includes immigrants on both his father’s and mother’s side), you’d think he’d be willing to support some commonsense immigration reform solutions. Alas, his record is one of complete and utter opposition to comprehensive immigration reform. While he now claims to support guest worker programs, he stood with Barbara Boxer and the SEIU in opposing a guest worker program back in 2005. Despite proudly wearing his Catholic faith on his sleeve, he vocally criticizes the Catholic Bishops for their strong advocacy for immigration reform. Although his early congressional career shows a willingness to back smaller amnesty proposals, his steadfast opposition to “amnesty” in principle has led him to reject even Newt Gingrich’s more demure version of the DREAM Act; he’s even gone so far as to call Newt’s moderate immigration stance “false compassion for illegal immigrants.”
Santorum even went where no other GOP Presidential candidate has gone: he has openly called for a reduction in legal immigration. This economically perilous and progressive stance caught the attention of the notoriously xenophobic, pro-abortion group NumbersUSA. Roy Beck, the President of the group who has publicly spoken to racist organizations, upgraded Santorum’s rating to an “A-” – by far the highest score of any of the remaining Presidential candidates (Mitt Romney has the next highest score, receiving a “C+”).
Santorum even had the gall to say that he would “grieve” for the elderly who were deported under his Presidency, but would not make efforts to prevent their imminent deportation. This statement demonstrates that Santorum lacks even a rudimentary understanding of immigration issues, and his statements should disturb anyone, Santorum supporter or not. The callous nature of these comments is reminiscent of Obama’s tone-deafness on the abortion issue (recall, if you will, how pro-lifers were upset in 2008 when then-candidate Barack Obama said that a baby was “punishment”). Suffice it to say that to most Americans, a willingness to deport the elderly won’t exactly go over well.
But really, if a candidate of either party thinks that upholding the law (a campaign theme for Santorum both in 2006 and now in 2012) is more important than keeping families together or maintaining strong economies and communities, said candidate cannot honestly be called a conservative. Of course, Santorum vocally opposes Ronald Reagan’s idea of what conservatism essentially is, so I guess no one should really be too surprised to see him embrace a progressive, big-government solution to immigration issues.
Conservatives, don’t be fooled. Rick Santorum isn’t one of us. As a prominent PA GOP operative has said, “Yeah, he’s Mr. Pro-life. He’s socially conservative. But he is, in my mind, unfit to be President.” Hopefully, more conservatives and Republicans start to realize this before it’s too late.