Another View -- Joe Grant: Why did Kelly Ayotte get the immigration vote wrong?
In 2010 New Hampshire voters elected Kelly Ayotte by a 20 percent margin to represent them in the U.S. Senate. Ayotte ran hard on a conservative platform, and in nearly every stump speech and campaign stop she hammered home the case for conservative principles.
Previously Sen. Ayotte was quoted as saying “For the people who are here illegally, I don’t support amnesty; It’s wrong. It’s wrong to the people who are waiting in line, who have waited for so long. And we need to stop that because I think that’s where the administration is heading next.”
In a letter dated June 19 of this year, Sen. Ayotte wrote of the immigration bill she supported; “This legislation secures the border first, with more border agents, more fencing and better surveillance technology.”
In fact, as amended, this nearly 1,200-page document was supported by the White House, was rewritten and dumped, complete with hand-written notes, on the Senate late in the day of June 21, with a cloture vote scheduled for Monday the 24th. When I called Sen. Ayotte’s office on the morning of the 24th, I was informed that she had indeed read the amendment and would vote for it. It is not reasonable to expect even a trained attorney to read, absorb and comprehend an intentionally complex 1,200-page legal document in such a short period of time.
Assuming the senator did indeed read the bill, she knew she was voting for the immediate legalization of at least 11.1 million illegal aliens before any further border security measures are put in place. She also knew she was voting to provide a substantial financial incentive for some employers to hire “registered provisional immigrants” instead of equally qualified U.S. citizens. (This fact certainly would have a negative impact on many New Hampshire citizens seeking employment).
In fact, this amendment does not secure the border first. There is no guarantee of border security now or at any future date.
The political landscape is littered with evidence of congressional failures in similar attempts to repair what Sen. Ayotte refers to as a “severely broken immigration system.”
In 1986, Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which resulted in legalizing 2.8 million illegal aliens. This bill was praised by proponents as being necessary one time only because border controls would follow. They did not.
In 2006 the Border Security Fence Act was passed, which increased funding from $4.6 billion to $10.4 billion and called for 700 miles of physical barriers. The project was never completed.
Since 2006 we’ve seen other bills like the Border Security First Act of 2007, the reinstatement of the Secure Fence Act of 2008, the Border Security Accountability Act of 2008, the Border Security Technology Innovation Act of 2008. The list goes on.
As these fruitless efforts transpired, the count of illegal aliens on U. S. soil increased from about 5 million in 1986 to 11.1 million today.
Sen. Ayotte’s vote on the amnesty issue is in direct contradiction to her campaign rhetoric and other statements she’s made since she was elected. With this background and knowledge available, an inquiring mind must ask: Why? Why would any politician espouse such conservative principles and then act so blatantly to the contrary? This is not a rhetorical question.
Unfortunately, in this instance the answer is as obvious as it is disappointing.
Here are some clues.
It appears that Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns negative ads have had a greater impact on Sen. Ayotte than some of us imagined, and perhaps the senator reasoned that a quick flip flop would suffice to get Michael and his ilk to “disappear.”
In the June 24 edition of the Union Leader the following blurb appears: “Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte isn’t up for reelection until 2016, but she is also trying to raise money in anticipation of a major battle, possibly from a woman named Maggie Hassan. From her Friday email: ‘As you know, I’ve become the Left’s favorite target since voting against their gun control legislation this spring.’”
The senator has allowed reelection to become the No. 1 priority in her political life and she sees business contributions as essential to that end. It’s that simple. This whole scenario reeks while lending great credence to the old adage, “Follow the Money.”