Isn't it Weird That... Pedro Celis, the Mexican immigrant-turned-Microsoft-success-story who's running against U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA, 1) was a full-throated supporter of this year's signature immigration reform bill in Olympia that allowed children of undocumented immigrants to get college financial aid, but suddenly released a statement yesterday that played up his conservative positions? The statement read, in part, “One thing that no one will deny is that illegal immigration represents a real problem for our economy and our national security ... I do not support amnesty."
Maybe the change in focus has to do with Tea Party sensation David Brat, who upset GOP house majority leader Rep. Eric Cantor in the primary this week? Listen to Brat in the national press:
Even the DREAM Act — which once seemed a relatively easy lift because it is aimed at illegal immigrant children brought to this country through no fault of their own — now looks like an increasingly heavy lift.
“Once you announced that kids are welcome, they’re going to head in,” Brat, an economics professor and once a political unknown, told Breitbart News on Sunday.
As for Celis, his post-Brat statement goes on to say he wants to fix the broken immigration system, but he makes no reference to the 11 million undocumented immigrants who already live here. That's the central question.
Celis seemed more comfortable addressing that question earlier this year in a Seattle Times op-ed in favor of the legislation giving kids access to student aid, where he closed with this note:
"[It] only removes the state impediments for these students to apply for state grants. It does not remove the federal obstacles for them to receive the grant because applying for federal student aid and a Pell grant requires them or their parents to have a working Social Security number. It is up to the federal government to remove those obstacles."
A spokeswoman for Celis said they would get back to us.
Meanwhile, in an April radio interview with KTTH host David Boze, Celis had talked elliptically about the issue.
Boze: What is your general approach on immigration reform?
Celis: I mean, you're talking about people that are here, we're talking about millions of people now, who are guilty of one thing, which is working without a permit. That is the thing that they have done. They have been working here, and they did not have permission to work here. We need a solution for that. Amnesty programs never succeed. You know when McCain was working on this years ago and President Bush, I was advising him on immigration issues. I suggested that ... once you put an amnesty program in there you're going to defeat the whole thing. You need to find a way for people to 'escape out of the shadows is the expression that is used. ... Deporting them is not going to be an option, but anything that smells like amnesty where you start giving them citizen[ship] and all those things seems like you are rewarding bad behavior. ... And that I think is normally where the Republican party gets stuck [on] how to deal with the issue.
Boze: I believe in the Investors Business Daily, there was a column a while back, I wish I could remember who wrote it. But ... I saw similar sentiments expressed across the media spectrums where criticisms of that kind of approach were there will be a legalization, but without citizenship. They use the language of the Jim Crow South and called it separate but equal snd I'm wondering what would your response be to criticism like that?
Celis: Well I mean, allowing people to have a visa to work is an improvement in their life. And they will be happ[ier] with that than [they have with] the current the status quo. That doesn't mean that you also put them on the path, but they're unable to become citizens or unable to get in line of the other mechanisms that the country has. So it's not saying 'Oh, you have a visa, and by this particular visa you are no longer allowed to pursue the mechanisms that we have in this country to become citizens.' Those mechanisms, I'm sure, need a lot of improvements and make them simpler to say that, but that's a separate deal of problems to solve.