Time’s Joe Klein has been taking a pre-election road trip across the country, and his latest blog post is about a stop in Phoenix, Ariz. There, Klein met an impressive young patriot named Michael, who wants to join the Marine Corps. In high school, Michael was an ROTC battalion commander. But he can’t join the Corps because he is in the U.S. illegally, brought here by his parents when he was 7 years old.
Klein’s entire piece is worth reading. (It’s not long.) Here is an excerpt:
One of Michael’s great heroes was Senator John McCain–not just for his war record, his astonishing courage as a prisoner of war, but because he was simpatico. He seemed to understand the immigration conundrum and co-sponsored a sane, bipartisan bill (with Senator Ted Kennedy) to resolve it. He also co-sponsored a bill that would enable Michael to live his dream. It was, appropriately, called the Dream Act and it would provide a path to citizenship for children whose parents brought them here illegally–if they completed college or joined the military. (McCain often attended the incredibly moving ceremony that took place in front of the Faw Palace in Baghdad every July 4: dozens of soldiers, sailors and Marines who were not citizens would take the oath together and become Americans.)
But that was a different John McCain. A good part of the Senator’s honor and dignity disappeared during the 2008 presidential campaign. The rest of it evaporated this year, as he faced a right-wing primary challenge for his seat. He has walked away from his positions in favor of cap-and-trade legislation, away from his immigration reform bill–and away from his Dream Act. He voted against it, as a rider to the Defense Appropriations bill this week.
He has also walked away from his humanity, which brings us back to Michael. A week ago, Michael and three friends tried to enlist in the Marine Corps. They went to a local recruiting office and were turned down because they had no document that could establish legal residence in this country–no temporary visa, no green cards, nothing. Then they went to McCain’s Phoenix office to seek some help, but weren’t able to tell their story to anyone.