MSNBC: General Colin Powell on Immigration and Politics

A leading voice of moderate Republicans, former Secretary of State, General Colin Powell, spoke on MSNBC‘s Meet the Press on September 19th, giving his views on a wide range of topics, including immigration. (See Meet the Press transcript for 12.Sep.2010, MSNBC.) Powell described himself as a “moderate Republican,” one with “very, very moderate social views” who is “pretty strong on defense issues.” No surprise there. Nor should anyone be surprised to find in Powell a champion of immigration; he is the son of Jamaican immigrants. Even if not surprising, his views are nonetheless compelling, with the full force and gravitas of an experienced soldier, diplomat, and public servant of the first rank. General Powell would like his party to take a fresh look at its stance on immigration, commenting to MSNBC that:

We [the GOP] can’t be anti-immigration, for example, because immigrants are fueling this country. Without immigrants, America would be like Europe or Japan with an aging population and no young people coming in to take care of it. We have to educate our immigrants. The Dream Act is one way we can do this.

Addressing a question on border security in general, and specifically about the uproar over illegal immigration in Arizona, General Powell was careful not to find fault with potential future supporters in the GOP – should he decide to run for President some day – but gave a carefully nuanced answer to MSNBC‘s David Gregory, an answer that bears quoting at some length:

The American people want their borders to be protected. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with making sure that people come across our borders, particularly our southern border, in a legal, safe manner. But, at the same time, we have millions and millions of illegal immigrants in our country, undocumented individuals, who are working, who are doing things we need done in this country. They’re all over at my house doing things whenever I call for repairs, and I’m sure you’ve seen them at your house. We’ve got to find a way to bring these people out of the darkness and give them some kind of status. In the next few years, we will discover that, between the ages of 15 and 64, the working ages of our people, most of those are going to be kept in that age group because of immigration and the children of immigrants, whereas in other parts of the world the age of the population’s getting older, and fewer people are working. So I’m telling you and telling all of my citizens around the country is that immigration is what’s keeping this country’s lifeblood moving forward. They enrich our culture with every generation. And we have to find a way to treat our immigrant population with respect and dignity and give them a path to citizenship.

One hopes this message is being heard and taken to heart by General Powell’s more conservative colleagues in the GOP. It is advice well taken, if the GOP seeks to expand its support among more moderate Republicans, and even among the some Democrats who would be happy to support center-right views, if they come with the cool-headed imprimatur of a Colin Powell. Stay tuned. The kick-off for the 2012 presidential election comes right after the mid-term elections…

Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.