Isakson under pressure: GOP eyes senator on immigration vote
by Jon Gillooly
May 12, 2013 12:21 AM | 3731 views | 17 17 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-east Cobb.)
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-east Cobb.)
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As Congress takes up a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s immigration system, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) has come under pressure from a divided Republican Party on how he will vote on the topic.

“He is under pressure from both sides,” said Kerwin Swint, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University. “The stalwarts that don’t want any kind of immigration package or the others who say we’ve got to do something, so he’s just kind of caught in the middle a little bit.”

When asked Friday about how he intends to vote on the bill, Isakson said, “We’re not going to prejudge what the final version is going to be until it’s marked up, debated and amended — so any question that precludes that process taking place is premature.”

A pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants who are already here is going to be highly controversial in certain key circles of the Republican Party, Swint said.

“The tea party and others are going to resist anything like that tooth-and-nail. They’re going to fight it tooth-and-nail, and that’s the kind of pressure that he’s under,” Swint said. “He’s a smart guy. He’s a reasonable guy, and I think he knows that the Republican Party is at a real crossroads, and they’ve got to do something, but doing something comes at a cost, and a lot of people on the right are going to say doing anything like that is unacceptable. You know, it’s ‘selling out’ or ‘giving up’ or whatever you call it.”

But, at the same time, the Republican Party must start winning at least a portion of Hispanic and female votes if it wants to be competitive, Swint said.

“The question is, how do you do that without losing your base or losing that part of the base that won’t compromise on things like that? And a big problem with that for a lot of candidates is the Republican primaries.”

Swint pointed to the race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), noting how U.S. Rep. Paul Broun (R-Athens) has been endorsed by Ron Paul for the seat. Broun is campaigning on a platform that the tea party movement and conservative base embraces.

“But is that where the party wants to be nationally, that’s the thing, and how long will Republicans be able to win on positions like that in a state like Georgia? Five years? Ten years?” Swint asked.

Isakson did draw a line in the sand in the Friday interview on one aspect of the proposed immigration bill.

“Border security is the trigger for anything else being done, that’s correct,” Isakson said, when pressed on the issue.

Closing off the border

U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-Roswell) agreed that the first step to regaining the trust of the American people is controlling and strengthening the border.

“That’s what was promised in 1986 and it wasn’t accomplished,” Price said Friday. “I think that the conversation gets a whole lot more civil and a whole lot more honest once the border is controlled and secured. Until you do that, it doesn’t make any difference.”

Deporting the millions of immigrants already in the country illegally wouldn’t make much difference with a porous border that would allow them to cross right back over, Price said.

“So that is a futile effort until you control and secure the border, and then have that honest discussion about what level of legal immigration we should have,” Price said. “We waste hundreds of millions of dollars on educating young people from other countries, being educated here, and we send them all back when they graduate, which doesn’t make any sense at all. So there are huge flaws in our immigration system, which need to be corrected at the same time.”

If ever there was a poster child for the incompetence of the immigration system it’s the Boston disaster, Price said.

“Here you’ve got a young man who’s here on a student visa that has expired, and he’s here because he came to the United States as a sanctuary from a country that was apparently persecuting him, and he left the United States to return to the country that was supposedly persecuting him,” Price said.

The man then returned on an expired visa without apparently any problem, Price said.

The tea party view

J.D. Van Brink, chairman of the Marietta-based Georgia Tea Party, said under no circumstances will he support a bill that allows for a pathway to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally.

“Citizenship is one of the most valuable things that we have,” Van Brink said. “If we want to preserve a constitutional republic we have to be very, very careful about our citizenship, and there are plenty of people who would love to come here and come here legally.”

Van Brink said his group strongly supports improving the system to make it easier for immigrants to move here legally.

However, his group is carefully watching those elected officials who decide to vote for a pathway for immigrants in the country illegally to become citizens.

“Pathway to citizenship, that is only for people who come here legally, period,” Van Brink said. “There is no compromise on that aspect of that and anyone who votes on it, well, the Georgia Tea Party is going to make a big issue out of it, I can tell you that.”

That message, delivered succinctly by Van Brink, is but one side of an issue that has many minefields for a powerful senator like Isakson.

Comments
(17)
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lance sjogren
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May 14, 2013
If Republicans don't even have enough sense to vote against this atrocity, exactly what are they good for?
count San Donato
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May 13, 2013
NO,NO,...............It's clear that Isaacson is right. It's clear that anyone in the GOP that has gone over to the Democrat Nation destroying policies is a traitor.
anonymous
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May 13, 2013
Isakson needs tpo read some of his own press releases from 2007 when he said he must see border security before he would support amnesty.

They are on his website. DA King is doing a good job of sending them out again. This bill is a fraud but Jihnny won't say so because the business lobby wants it passed. Then they willstart over with cheap illegal labor.

When Johnny ran as a Republican, he must have had his fingers crossed. ENFORCE THE LAW!
anonymous
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May 13, 2013
Johnny has sold out like everyone else on the hill and US citizens pay the price. Time for Isakson to go along with all the rest.
Lib in Cobb
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May 13, 2013
@anonymous: Without saying, "Enforce the current laws". What is your suggestion, involving the immigration issue? If you replace Johnny with another hardliner, you/we will not get any kind of a resolution. Do you want to help pay for a high tech fence surrounding the US? Do you want to pay for armed guards every 100 yards? Please grace us with your ideas. If you are going to complain about the current situation, then have the stones to make a suggestion or two.
off balance
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May 14, 2013
@LIC

The cost of a fence is cheaper than the cost to American families. A fence is an inanimate object. An American who cannot find a job is a shame. Give jobs to Americans who build the fence.

Armed guards every 100 yards is hyperbole.

Attrition Through Enforcement.

It si not just paying taxes. If that were all, why not open our borders completely , register everyone and collect taxes. How short sighted.

Your emotional response in support of illegal entrants to our country suggests that our lack understanding of the damage that has occurred and will worsen. You, sir , are either lacking in understanding or are, simply, unpatriotic.

Lib in Cobb
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May 13, 2013
OK, so Johnny is going to pay the price at some point for not supporting an immigration bill which might solve a problem of monumental proportion. The anti-immigration bill folks continue to complain about the undocumented not paying taxes, in fact they do pay taxes. These workers often times work under assumed identities and have taxes withdrawn from their paychecks, they don't file income tax returns so they don't get a refund, more goes into the government's account. They pay sales tax on everything they buy. They pay rent and a portion of their rent is destined for property taxes. If a path to citizenship was developed then they would pay taxes according to the wingers, ah, as I have already mentioned they do pay taxes. OK, the workers who work under the table don't pay income tax. BTW, if any of you hard liners have ever received a gratuity or cut grass as a kid and paid in cash; Did you pay taxes on that income? Most everyone I know has not paid taxes on some income in their lives. Mitt Romey the GOP loser of 2012 doesn't pay taxes on his off-shore accounts, but that's ok with the GOP. I will add that Mittens received a very healthy deduction for a horse. Is that deduction legal, yes it is, but it is far from right.

OK, secure the borders and get an immigration bill passed which will permit these 11 to 18 million people to obtain a legal status.

To the many hardliners in Cobb, we can't deport 11 million people. If you don't like the ethnic mixture of this wonderful country then leave and don't let the door hit you in the backside on the way out.
Barbara Griffith
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May 15, 2013
Yes and a large number of these illegal alien taxpayers also claim the child tax credit to the tune of thousands of dollars each. They claim large numbers of children, some of which live in Mexico to receive refunds, some totaling $27,000.

That is a lot more than any of them were paid for working in the US. As far as I know the IRS never bothers to have them come in and bring the birth certificates of all the kiddies. The illegals know exactly how to game the system. At last count the IRS has lost millions of dollars to this scam and its rising.
Paying Their Share
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May 12, 2013
So Tea Party members say they will never support a path to citizenship for those who entered the U.S. illegally? Then what is this country suppose to do? Round them all (11-18 MILLION) up, put them in boxcars, and ship them accross the Mexican border? The lack of border security, which is the fault of Democrats & Republicans alike, is one of the main reasons so many illegals are in this country.

Secure our borders, then why not give illegals a certain amount of time to register, set out specific requirements for obtaining work visas & a path to citizenship for a period of years? This also puts them on the tax rolls paying state income taxes, federal payroll taxes & filing federal income tax returns. Because most illegals only pay sales tax now. U.S. businesses are paying them cash under the table so, the U.S. citizen/Business Owner is not paying what he legally owes either. This would help the Social Security Fund & Medicare, providing our Politicians don't continue to raid them so they can fund unnecessary wars & foreign governments.
Watcher...
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May 13, 2013
What is the Country supposed to do?

Make it very uncomfortable to stay in the United States! Stop ALL of the Federal, State and Local benefits! English ONLY!

Self-deportation is the answer!
frogbreath
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May 14, 2013
@paying their share

it is clear you do not understand "Attrition Through Enforcement". It works. No job, no welfare, no stay.

As to your idea of allowing them to stay, even though they violated American laws, I wonder what else, what other matters, to which you will accept payment to ignore.
Barbara Griffith
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May 15, 2013
Make E-verify a federal law and enforce it. If there is no work they will leave or starve.
Count E.P. Donato
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May 12, 2013
I have a question. How can American citizens, whatever their age, whatever their political party, be for an amnesty that will totally destroy their JOB PROSPECTS, WAGES, SOCIAL SERVICES, THE ENVIRONMENT and their SAFETY. Mexico is one of the most corrupt nations in the world. What in Gods name makes Americans think that criminality is not going to infiltrate the U.S. ten times the amount it does now. Whether you are a democrat or republican, stop these insane representatives from serving an agenda that IS NOT IN YOUR BEST INTERESTS AS A CITIZEN.
Politicians confused
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May 12, 2013
The largest problem the US faces are the laws that are active right now. The United States Supreme Court held in the case of Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982), that a State may not deny access to a basic public education to any child residing in the State, whether present in the United States legally or otherwise. Isn't this contradictory to the law the it is illegal to live in the US with out proper documentation. If the US changed the law and required schools to have papers, the school systems would not be broke! Hundreds of children come across the border in California every day to attend school. It is very sad that Hispanics have changed the outcome of our country in elections. You won't think it is funny when they are all voted into office and we are a part of Mexico! They pay no taxes and suck our entitlement programs dry. They utilize our hospitals with out paying and our schools. 10,000 ESL students in CCSD right now. Think about that!
Just Wait
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May 12, 2013
What's worse, being throw out of office by a bunch of right wing extremest or getting their support?
Samuel Adams
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May 12, 2013
Tom Price has the guts to stand firm, while it's obvious that Johnny has partaken of the D.C. "we've got to do something, even if it costs the country a fortune" kool aid. Republicans will never get Hispanics to vote for them and they should realize it's a pipe dream. Buckle down on legal immigration (11,000 Somali Muslims in one year, for example, cannot be good for America). Close the borders as Price advocates, and don't bend to the Democrats or our country will be fundamentally changed forever.
Pat H
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May 12, 2013
The decisions on this bill is easy - no way. Keeping track of Visas should be instituted now, no need for a new bill.

Isakson and his real estate business has been behind amnesty since he wrote the George Bush amnesty bill. We have massive unemployment - enforce workplace verification, and enforce the felony penalty for those who hire illegal aliens.
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