Story Transcript

Anti-Immigration Movement Conflicted on McCain
By Lagan Sebert

RALLY PARTICIPANT, CALIFORNIA: Load them all up and haul them back where they came from.

RADIO ANNOUNCEMENT: Hold Their Feet To The Fire 14 continues live from Washington, DC. It’s the Roger Hedgecock Show on AM 600 KOGO.

VOICEOVER: The powerful anti-immigration movement descended on the Capitol this week, with activists filling the halls of Congress and nearly 50 broadcasters protesting immigrant rights and open borders. But in this year’s presidential election, the movement finds itself without a champion and especially conflicted on John McCain.

LOU DOBBS, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: We’re in a lot of trouble in this country because these two parties are selling out to the highest bidder. And I’ll say this for them, Roger: they’re not going cheaply.

ROGER HEDGECOCK, RADIO HOST, AM 600 KOGO: That’s exactly right, Lou, and I think the only thing we can do as We the People is to do what we did to the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill is whoever’s in office, it doesn’t matter. What we’ve got to do is say: we the people are not going to put up with those kinds of invasions; we’re not going to put up with the social costs; we’re not going to put up with the community costs and the crime rate.

VOICEOVER: The rally is sponsored by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a controversial group that has been accused of promoting discriminatory rhetoric by watchdog groups.

TEXT ON SCREEN: “As Whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion?” — John Tanton, FAIR Founder and Board Director

VOICEOVER: Despite their controversial nature, they have become one of the most prominent immigration organizations. Their spokespeople appear frequently on mainstream news networks. Last year, John McCain was in the center of this movement’s crosshairs. The broadcasters and their supporters helped kill the immigration reform legislation McCain sponsored with Ted Kennedy.

DAN STEIN, PRESIDENT, FAIR: We all were successful in defeating the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill, the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill.

REP. BRIAN BILBRAY (R-CA): And you were able to stop one of the most disastrous mistakes that almost occurred in this country, and that is giving 20 million people citizenship and amnesty.

VOICEOVER: But in the run-up to the presidential elections, McCain changed his immigration stance.

REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R-CA): Well, John McCain has stated that he is going to build the border fence and that he wasn’t for that before the start of the campaign. He’s now solidly behind building the border fence. That’s very, very important. That means control first. I like that.

RALLY PARTICIPANT, CALIFORNIA: After the phones started ringing in the Capitol, you know, when they shut the phone system down two different times, that’s when he changed his mind, same as he did on drilling. After a month of being hammered about “drill here, drill now,” he changed his mind. You know, I think he’s listening and he’s probably learning.

DAN RIVERS, RADIO HOST, 570 WKBN, OHIO: I think John McCain has changed, because John McCain has said that he has gotten the message from America, and he understands that we don’t want amnesty. And I think John McCain is going to be maybe not the perfect guy for it, but at least he’s heard us.

VOICEOVER: But despite McCain’s new stance on immigration, many in the anti-immigration movement still see him as the enemy.

RALLY PARTICIPANT, TEXAS: I’ve been, obviously, fighting McCain for five years. Now, he’s obviously pulled a big coup here with Sarah Palin, and he probably will be able to pull this thing off. But the interest is, US Chamber of Commerce, they want the cheapest labor they can get and spread the cost to the rest of us.

RALLY PARTICIPANT, NORTH CAROLINA: Come and pander to me, the hard-working American taxpayer that’s got to live with all this crap that’s going on in this country.

RALLY PARTICIPANT, CALIFORNIA: I don’t know what it takes to get through to the guy. He’s just not getting it. Maybe he’s too far removed from what’s really going on.

VOICEOVER: With incendiary rhetoric and heavy emotion on the right and the left of the immigration debate, both presidential candidates have largely steered clear of confronting the issue head-on. During his convention speech, McCain didn’t even utter the word “immigration.” But many of the states up for grabs in this election are the same states where the immigration debate is most heated. As election day nears, this crowd is poised to push McCain even further away from his original immigration policy.

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Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.