Why Bill O'Reilly now supports immigration reform(Read article summary)
Bill O'Reilly announced his support for the immigration reform bill on his Fox News show Thursday night, in light of a border-security compromise that has been struck.
A border-security compromise struck by two Republican senators and the authors of the Senate‚Äôs bipartisan immigration reform bill is not only winning over perhaps a dozen or more Republicans to the cause: It‚Äôs also made an immigration reform believer out of Fox News host Bill O‚ÄôReilly.
‚ÄúIt is time for the USA to pass immigration reform,‚ÄĚ Mr. O‚ÄôReilly said on his show, "The O‚ÄôReilly Factor," Thursday night. ‚ÄúFor years I‚Äôve called for a more secure Southern border, you know that. And now it looks like the secure border is in reach, at least somewhat. So I hope this bill does become law.‚ÄĚ
O‚ÄôReilly and other conservative pundits have been getting an earful from Sen. Marco Rubio (R) of Florida, among other conservative immigration reform proponents in Congress, in an attempt to win over the television and radio personalities who play a pivotal role in conservative politics.
Although O‚ÄôReilly denied claims he had already given his assurances privately to GOP senators that he would back the bill (a claim made in a recent piece in The New Yorker), it is the border-security compromise ‚Äď worked out by Sens. Bob Corker (R) of Tennessee and John Hoeven (R) of North Dakota with a handful of the Senate bill‚Äôs authors, known as the ‚ÄúGang of Eight‚ÄĚ ‚Äď that finally paved the way for his support.
That compromise, still being finalized as of Friday afternoon, would do the following before any of the nation‚Äôs estimated 11 million undocumented people can obtain permanent legal status:
- Offer a ‚Äúborder surge‚ÄĚ of some 20,000 new border patrol agents along the US-Mexico divide (doubling the number of agents there).
- Order up a slew of technological and infrastructure improvements.
- Require 700 miles of border fencing to be completed.
Those requirements come in addition to two other ‚Äútriggers‚ÄĚ that must be met before illegal immigrants can become permanent residents: Entry- and exit-tracking procedures have to be improved at all seaports and airports, and a nationwide system of employment verification known as E-Verify must be in place.
Senator Corker said he hopes the compromise, which also extends to a handful of non-border-security issues key to winning the support of other GOP senators, will produce more than a dozen conservative votes for the legislation. Two Senate Republicans ‚Äď Dean Heller of Nevada and Mark Kirk of Illinois ‚Äď said on Thursday they would almost certainly support the bill with the Corker-Hoeven amendments.
O‚ÄôReilly said he ‚Äúsupports immigration reform, even though I well understand the new law will be somewhat chaotic and will be a magnet for even more people to come here illegally, which is why we need stepped-up security along the border.‚ÄĚ
While noting the immigration issue was a difficult one for conservative Americans ‚Äúbecause reform would reward bad behavior ‚Äď illegal entry into the USA,‚ÄĚ he contended that the federal government and businesses that profited from cheap labor had played a key role in attracting illegal migrants.
Yet the political stakes are also high, O‚ÄôReilly said.
‚ÄúThe Republican Party has a lot to lose here. If it doesn‚Äôt compromise, many Hispanic voters will reject the GOP entirely, pretty much dooming the party in the future,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs the reality.‚ÄĚ
The amendments, which will probably come up for a vote next week as the Senate moves to pass the overall bill before the Fourth of July recess, aren‚Äôt winning over all pundits on the right, however.
The Corker-Hoeven package ‚Äúmay give political cover to Republican senators who want to vote for this bill anyway and are looking for something to be able to say when they go back home ‚Äď ‚Äėwe really toughened up that border security,‚Äô ‚ÄĚ said William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard magazine, on Fox News Thursday.
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt believe there‚Äôs a lot of policy analysis behind this. I missed all the hearings and the documents that show why we need 20,000 more border-security agents as opposed to 5,000," he said. "I don‚Äôt think it should change anyone‚Äôs fundamental attitude toward the bill as a matter of public policy, as it‚Äôs not a serious public-policy proposal.‚ÄĚ