Skip to comments.Kan. GOP Senate hopeful hits rival on immigration
Posted on 07/13/2010 7:41:55 PM PDT by Mozilla
TOPEKA - U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran is aggressively attacking his main rival in the U.S. Senate race in Kansas, saying he previously supported amnesty for illegal immigrants, pointing to provisions in past bills designed to give immigrants help with college tuition.
A spokeswoman for fellow Republican and U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt calls the attacks "ridiculous," and Tiahrt has declared publicly that he opposes amnesty, just as Moran has.
Bills on college tuition in 2001 and 2003, co-sponsored by Tiahrt, included provisions granting legal residency to some immigrants under 21. Opinions differ on whether those measures constituted amnesty.
Tiahrt has said he changed his position on the tuition question after reviewing immigration issues further. This year, he sponsored a bill to block states from giving illegal immigrants a break on college tuition.
Moran cited Tiahrt's support for the older legislation during their first televised debate last week, mentioned it in a mailing and referred to it in a column in the trade magazine for Kansas prosecutors. It's the focus of his latest statewide television ad.
"One of the differences between Jerry Moran and Todd Tiahrt is that Jerry has a long record of being tough on illegal immigration and supporting stronger border enforcement," Moran spokesman Dan Conston said.
Tiahrt said his position on immigration can be summed up as "build the fence" along the U.S.-Mexican border.
"It is a ridiculous claim to say that Todd Tiahrt ever supported amnesty," said Tiahrt spokeswoman Michelle Schroeder. "Congressman Moran's desperate attack shows just how close this race has become."
Tiahrt has represented the 4th Congressional District of south-central Kansas since 1995 and Moran has held the seat for the 1st District of western and central Kansas since 1997. Moran's campaign has said he maintains a significant lead; Tiahrt's camp says Moran's lead has all but disappeared.
Morans campaign contends its a late conversion, noting a 2006 column Tiahrt wrote calling for creation of a temporary job permit program because, Most of the illegal immigrants working here are critical to the continued expansion of our economy.
Both tuition bills cited by Moran were introduced in the House by Utah Republican Chris Cannon, and neither received a vote. Cannon filed the first in May 2001, but Tiahrt didnt sign on until October 2002. When Cannon introduced the second in April 2003, Tiahrt was an original co-sponsor. Both bills had bipartisan support.
Both contained a provision directing the U.S. attorney general to grant legal resident status to immigrants under 21, if theyd lived in the U.S. at least five years and enrolled in seventh- through 12th grades or in a college. Also, the immigrants would have to show good moral character.
Thats an amnesty, said Kris Kobach, a University of Missouri-Kansas City law professor whos become a consultant for city officials and state legislators wanting to crack down on illegal immigration. Everybody in that category gets adjusted.
Kobach, a Republican whos running for Kansas secretary of state, is not taking sides in the U.S. Senate race and said both candidates have sought information from him.
He said other types of amnesties for parking tickets or unpaid taxes, for example usually involve waiving penalties to fulfill an obligation. With the tuition bills, he said, illegal immigrants are still getting what theyve stolen, their residency in the U.S.
But Joan Suarez, chairwoman of the St. Louis-based Missouri Immigration and Refugee Advocates, said such a provision in a tuition bill just isnt amnesty because allowing students to stay in the U.S. to finish their educations doesnt put them on the path to citizenship.
Theres been no bill introduced in any recent time that is amnesty, she said. Amnesty is when you say it doesnt matter what you did or who you are, but youre fine.
Some immigrant rights advocates like Suarez argue that using the term amnesty is misleading when the real goal is to allow such immigrants to earn U.S. citizenship, such as by working and paying taxes.
Angela Ferguson, a Kansas City, Mo., attorney, acknowledged being surprised by Tiahrts past support of the tuition proposals. She doesnt see either bill as providing amnesty, which she described as some sort of forgiveness.
Speaking from a religious perspective, forgiveness is never a bad thing, she said. But later, she acknowledged, I dont think any politician these days is going to touch that one.
stopping illegals from crossing our border is not immigration reform..its law enforcement...i dont think dems or republicans get it...they have bent the law so much for so many years. being pro illegal is supporting drug and human trafficers and violence on this side of the border..illegal immigrations is so wonderful then why cant we use our parks safely on the souhtern borders. why are we supporting criminals instead of law abiding US citizens.
What about Tom Little? Any information available on him?
Way this race is going, my disgust for both Tiahrt and Moran keeps growing everyday.
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