Jon Tester has finally come out in support of amnesty and a path to legalization. The only problem is that he isn’t referring to comprehensive immigration reform — he is using this language to argue that military veterans should be able to keep machine-guns and other fully automatic “trophy” firearms acquired on the battlefield. Tester wants to open a 90-day “amnesty period” for veterans to register these machine-guns so they have a “viable path to comply with federal law.”
No, I’m not kidding. A press release that was issued today states:
“It is important to protect veterans and members of our armed forces from unnecessary prosecution and give them a viable path to comply with federal law,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. “Those who fought to preserve our freedom should not be penalized for their desire to lawfully own firearms from the battlefield.”
The press release also says:
“It is critical that we give our veterans another 90-day amnesty period to comply with the law without fear of penalty,” Tester and McCain wrote. “If an amnesty is not provided, we will be further convinced that legislation is necessary in order for our veterans to register their lawfully obtained firearms.”
These statements are rich with irony because when talking about the DREAM Act or the need for immigration reform, Tester has stated repeatedly stated that he opposes any amnesty or path to comply with federal law.
To keep things straight: Tester supports “amnesty” so veterans can keep fully automatic weapons such as machine-guns, but no “viable path” to citizenship for undocumented kids who came here when they were children and want to serve our country in the military.
Do those sound like your values?
Today, I was interviewed for an article in the Huffington Post about Democrats who are standing in the way of immigration reform. The article was written by Elise Foley, and is well worth reading in its entirety. Here is the section that relates to Montana in particular:
In Montana, home to two of the senators who voted against the DREAM Act, advocates are mobilizing against Sen. Tester to pressure him into changing his immigration stances.
“What we’d really like is to change his mind, but we know that it’s going to take a lot for that to happen,” Montana immigration attorney Shahid Haque-Hausrath told HuffPost on Thursday. “One of our major goals is for Tester to get the message that it’s not going to be politically expedient for him to be raising immigration as a campaign issue.”
Tester is up for reelection in 2012 against Republican Rep. Danny Rehberg, putting activists in the odd position of fighting against a Democrat who assumes he will get their support. Although they do not want Rehberg to be elected, they see it as important to send a message to Tester, Haque-Hausrath said.
In addition to voting against the DREAM Act, Tester also voted to take away funding from the Department of Justice to block it from challenging Arizona’s contested immigration enforcement law.
“Rehberg’s positions are certainly no better than Tester’s,” Haque-Hausrath said. “But they’re also no worse.”
I have previously discussed Senator Jon Tester’s problematic immigration positions in two posts on this blog (here and here). It is also important to note that not all Montana Democrats share Tester’s views on immigration. Governor Brian Schweitzer has an incredibly enlightened view of immigration, and for two sessions in a row, Democrats in the Montana Legislature have taken caucus positions against anti-immigrant legislation. Democrats just need to take action to get our U.S. Senators back on the right track.