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Talk hosts recruited to push immigration reform?


America’s TV and radio talk hosts have been reportedly wooed behind the  scenes to get their more conservative audience to back immigration-reform  legislation.

The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza stirred up a hornet’s nest earlier this week by  reporting that Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and John McCain, R-Ariz. – two of the  “Gang of Eight” behind the Senate’s comprehensive immigration-reform bill – and  others have talked privately to Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly and other “top hosts” to  get them on board.

Then Thursday evening, after he admitted to speaking with Rubio on the phone  earlier in the day and getting certain assurances, O’Reilly announced he was now  in favor of the legislation.

“It is time for the USA to pass immigration reform,” O’Reilly said, “For  years I’ve 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.”

O’Reilly was likely referring to additional border security measures in an  amendment to the bill unveiled only a few hours previously by Sens. John Hoeven,  R-N.D., and Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.

Yet O’Reilly also asserted, “Sen. Rubio told me on the phone today that it  would be at least 13 years – 13 – before people in the country illegally right  now could gain full legal working status, and even longer to achieve  citizenship.”

Almost immediately, Rubio released a  press statement touting O’Reilly’s support.

O’Reilly, however, was well-aware of Lizza’s suggestion that Rubio had been  seeking a deal with him behind the scenes and vehemently denied the report.

“The writer Ryan Lizza reports that I, your humble correspondent, had private  conversations with Republican senators and agreed to support the immigration  bill in those conversations,” O’Reilly wrote in a  piece on Thursday. “That never happened. I never collude with  anyone. This is a no collusion zone. I occasionally talk with politicians who  give me information, as every political analyst and reporter does. But there are  never ever any deals made here about anything.”

He further explained his position on backing the bill: “The Republican Party  has a lot to lose here. If it doesn’t compromise, many Hispanic voters will  reject the GOP entirely pretty much dooming the party in the future. That’s  reality.”

Video of O’Reilly’s endorsement of the bill can be seen below:

Meanwhile, America’s most-listened to host, Rush Limbaugh also commented on  the Lizza story, claiming he, at least, had not been approached.

“The Ryan Lizza story says that McCain, Rubio and Graham had discussions with  ‘top hosts,’” Limbaugh said on his program earlier in the week. “I don’t  remember if any Republicans have ever approached me to come on board for  amnesty. I don’t think that’s happened. I think I would remember it.”

Sean Hannity, whom Lizza named specifically in his report as having been  lobbied by the bill’s Senate sponsors, has so far stood firm against the bill,  telling guest Ann Coulter Thursday night that Republicans are “suckers” for  backing it.

“You know what I don’t understand here? It’s like Republicans are suckers,”  Hannity said. “And I don’t trust the government: Every time there is talk of a  tax increase and spending cuts, you get the tax increase, never get the spending  cuts. You always get the amnesty, never the border control.”

Likewise, radio host and guest on “The O’Reilly Factor” Laura Ingraham,  ripped O’Reilly for his endorsement of the bill.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Ingraham told O’Reilly. “If Chuck Schumer,  Dick Durbin, Janet Napolitano and Barack Obama are cheering on this bill, this  Hoeven-Corker, which I imagine they’ll sign on to? That’s a clue it’s ultimately  not going to be good.”

Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions further took to the Senate floor Friday  to argue O’Reilly’s understanding from Rubio about 13 years to working status is  wrong.

“It’s not sufficient to pass this legislation based on talking points, on  spin from the sponsors of the bill,” Sessions charged. “We have to say, ‘OK,  does it really do that?’”

And does the bill really require people in the country illegally to wait 13  years before gaining full legal working status?

“Not so. Not so at all. Not even close,” Sessions said. “Within a few months  everyone applies for the [Registered Provisional Immigrant] status, the  provisional status, will be given a social security card and the right to go to  work and be lawfully in the country and cannot be deported unless they commit a  serious crime. It’s virtually immediately, not 13 years.”

He continued, “This is how the citizenship and green card status works,  permanent legal status: So, within months everybody that qualifies under the 11  million will be given R.P.I. provisional status, virtually immediately. They  will be able to take any job in America, move anywhere they want to in America,  displace workers in America, compete for jobs wherever. That’s what will happen  under the bill.

“But for about 2.5 million who are people who came here as teenagers, the  so-called Dreamers, they get citizenship in five years, they’ll have citizenship  in five years, that’s 2 million, 2.5 million,” he continued. “And certain ag  workers – those individuals who are illegally here become permanent legal  residents permanently – they get their legal right to work immediately. But in  five years they get permanent legal status, and the other eight to 10 million  illegal immigrants would be eligible for green cards or legal permanent  residence in ten years, not 13. So there is an immediate amnesty that precedes  all this.”

Politico reports that the Hoeven-Corker amendment is nonetheless helping the  bill’s passage: “Negotiators said as many as 15 GOP senators who were on the  fence will now be inclined to vote for the landmark bill that revamps the U.S.  immigration system and gives a pathway to citizenship for millions of  undocumented residents.”

“It is safe to say this agreement has the power to change minds in the  Senate,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., one of the “Gang of Eight” architects  behind the original immigration bill.


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