Memo to Tim Kaine: What Is It About “Illegal” That You Don’t Understand?

Jerry Kilgore doesn’t think that local authorities in Herndon should make life easier for illegal immigrants by setting up a special day-labor center for them. He’s repeatedly made it clear that his problem is not with immigrants, it’s with illegal immigrants.

According to Tim Kaine, that makes Kilgore “mean spirited.”

According to Tyler Whitley’s account of the Kaine-Kilgore debate yesterday, Kaine said: “There is a mean-spiritedness to your position. What Virginians need is a leader who is about bringing people together, who doesn’t run around Virginia beating up on 40 percent to get to 60 percent.”

Huh? Excuse me, who comprises the 40 percent that Kilgore supposedly was beating up on? Illegal immigrants don’t make up that large a percentage of Virginia’s population…. yet. And how does it constitute “beating up” someone to acknowledge that they’re in this country illegally? Are the police being “mean spirited” when they put Americans in jail for breaking the law?

Just how, exactly, does Kaine propose “bringing people together” on the issue of illegal immigration? What would a sweet-spirited approach to illegal immigrants look like? Looking the other way? Holding hands and singing Kumbaya? Opening welcome centers? Or maybe showing some old-fashioned Southern hospitality — “Ya’ll come back now. And make sure to bring your family and friends!”

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  1. Jim,

    You need to go back to your old job with VB. At least that was honest spirited work.
    You don’t want anyone to criticize Bush on your site, your unfair attacks on Barnie for example, but you feel free to jump on Kaine and Kilgore for saying what they believe. As Forrest says, “mean spirited is as mean spirited does”.

    Kumbaya to you if you know what I mean.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    Okay, I’ll rise to this bait. I don’t understand what is so awful about the town of Herndon — faced with a loitering problem as day laborers congreate at parks, 7-11s, etc — providing a place where the marketplace can do its thing? Once they do that, then they CAN more credibly crack down on the laborers and employers who are trespassing or loitering in other locations.

    Do we check the immigration credentials of the people in weekend farmer’s markets? Neighborhood flea markets? Public libraries? This is a federal problem the federal government is ignoring, the state is ignoring it, and Herndon just wants to corral it into a controlled location.

  3. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Anonymous, You raise a legitimate point and I am sympathetic to some degree. The town council of Herndon was responding to a public nuisance. What was it supposed to do when dozens of illegal immigrants are gathering every morning at a 7 Eleven? You’re also right: Illegal immigration is a federal problem, but the federal government is not responding coherently to it.

    But that doesn’t affect my main point. Kilgore raises legitimate issues, whether you agree or disagree with with his solution. We’re not talking about a black/white situation. Both sides can make reasonable arguments. But Kaine didn’t simply disagree with Kilgore: He chose to characterize Kilgore as “mean spirited.” An insult is not an argument — it’s a substitute for thought.

  4. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Laszlo, Anyone is free to criticize President Bush on this blog as long as (a) the topic has some connection to Virginia, and (b) the criticism refrains from vulgarity, insults and ad hominem attacks.

    You want to criticize Bush’s approach to Medicaid, and the impact it has on Virginia state finances? Go right ahead.

    You want to criticize Bush’s failure to veto a pork-laden transportation bill that does little to solve Virginia’s underlying transportation problems? Be my guest.

    Pick your topic and go right ahead. I’ll post it on the blog for you.

  5. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    One of the reasons I was eager to see the internals on the Post’s recent poll was that an earlier poll, Survey USA I think, hinted Kilgore was GAINING support among Hispanic voters for his positions and tone. I was curious what the Post’s sample said. I wouldn’t be surprised if legal (and now citizen) immigrants have less tolerance for the illegals.

    It is a matter of tone, Jim, and a matter of the basic hypocrisy in this country. I don’t know if Kaine’s criticism has basis, because I haven’t heard Kilgore speak on it, but I’ve heard some politicians really play this for fear and racism. It is also possible that Kaine is blowing it up for his own purposes.

    It’s been amazing over the years how many strident opponents of lax immigration enforcement turned up with nannies and gardners with no green cards. We want the cheap labor, we DEMAND the low prices, and then complain when human capital ignores a pourous intangible border and fills the need. This is one of those “be careful what you ask for” and “law of unintended consequences” scenarios if there ever was one.

    Go to Blockbuster or Movie Time and rent, “A Day Without A Mexican.” Very very funny in its own right but pretty revealing, too. This issue deserves more depth than it will get in this campaign.

  6. Anonymous Avatar


    You say immigration is a federal problem, you are obviously right. But why won’t Bush and the Republicans do anything about it? He’s your guy and your party, yet he won’t fix a massive problem, leaving Herndon no choice.

    You complain about Kaine’s position, but say nothing about the people who you support who can actually make a difference.

    That’s called hypocricy.

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    I dunno. When you start trying to play the illegal immigrant problem into Al Qaeda cells, I think that’s pretty mean spirited way to go. Let’s be honest: the immigration issue is not one that either Kaine or Kilgore will do anything substantively different on, and both of them know it. But Kilgore’s people have polled and seen that immigrants could be a great “white male” motivator for their base (their exact words, at their own GOTV training sessions). That’s why they are focusing on this issue. That’s why the Al Qaeda gaffe. And yes, it is a little meanspirited, because yes, it is meant to play up fears of non-white immigrants amongst the base, not simply speak out against illegal activity. Just wait until you get the direct mail pieces and we’ll see whether this is really about illegals or more about getting increased turnout from “white males.”

  8. Anonymous Avatar

    Why the assumption that Hispanic gang members are illegals? Now THAT is pure racial stereotyping. They could be fourth generation Americans.

  9. [Anon. 10:59 a.m.]

    Hypocrisy: “The practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess; falseness.”

    Some people, like Jim Bacon, oppose public handouts for illegal aliens like the one proposed for the Town of Herndon. Elected officials that these people sometimes agrees with on other matters apparently do not oppose such measures.

    In what way does this make Mr. Bacon’s statement hypocritical? I don’t follow the logic.

  10. Anonymous Avatar

    Anonymous 11:22 – They could be, but they are not. At least, when they catch them they invariably are found to be illegals.

    My guess is that 4th-generation fold are less likely to have a “gang” attitude, and newly arrived legals wouldn’t take the chance of losing what they worked so hard to get.

  11. criticallythinking Avatar

    If Bush does something about it, do you supposed Kaine will:
    a) Join him; or
    b) Accuse him of attacking the 40%?

    In other words, how does your opinion of Bush’s failure on immigration relate to the 2 candidates for governor in Virginia.

    To the degree you are correct, Kilgore is going against his party leader on an issue he cares about.

    Kaine is doing what to show he cares?

  12. Not Guy Incognito Avatar
    Not Guy Incognito

    Talk about a wedge issue.

    Face it guys, this is one that really has a statistically minute bearing on the overall health of Virginia, or Herndon.

    Can anyone show me what percentage of Herndon’s budget this center will cost? I’d love to see just how small that number is.

    This is not just an immigration issue, this is a social, economic, and public safety issue.

    Jerry has repeatedly spoken of granting local and state police immigration control powers. Does it matter to you that virtually all of those organizations don’t want those powers? Talk about a law enforcement nightmare.

  13. Anonymous Avatar

    I think I explained it as well as I could. When I went to the Kilgore election training, they said that illegal immigrants was going to be a big deal on talk radio over the next couple of months because of Arizona and New Mexico and that it had major potential to move a lot of sporadically white males to the polls. This issue is being raised purely because it polls well amongst a key Republican demographic, not because there is any serious policy thought going on here. It’s certainly a worthwhile issue on its own right, but that’s simply not why it’s part of the Governor’s debate.

  14. There would be a lot fewer illegl immigrants if there was some remotely reasonable way to make them legal.

    I’m still waiting for papers I filed over four years ago to be returned.

    Let the people who employ these laborers pay a user fee to support the work center, and work the process to make them legal.

  15. Anonymous Avatar

    Yes, conservative politicians mention illegal immigration not ’cause they care or plan to do anything about it but as a racebaiter to get apathetic blue collar conservatives to vote for them.

    Red-herring non issue in Virginia.
    Yeah, this subject of illegal immigration has even LESS relevancy to VIRGINIA than Katrina, huh?

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