If you Google the terms “Jeff Flake” and “immigration,” you’ll see numerous articles about a strong advocate for comprehensive immigration reform. But once it became clear that Flake was running for Senate in Arizona’s GOP primary, that began to change. In February, Suzy Khimm at Mother Jones wrote an article about “Jeff Flake’s Immigration Problem,” which posed the question:
The Arizona Republican has been a leading moderate voice on immigration, drawing fire from his party’s right flank. Will he survive a Senate primary?
We’ve got part of the answer. In the tradition of John McCain, Flake is distancing himself from himself on immigration.
The fact that he is distancing himself from his past leadership on comprehensive immigration reform is a sad commentary on the current contours of Republican Party politics. Flake, who is apparently worried about a Republican primary, said in reference to his past support for comprehensive immigration reform:
I’ve been down that road, and it is a dead end. The political realities in Washington are such that a comprehensive solution is not possible, or even desirable given the current leadership. Border security must be addressed before other reforms are tackled.
Flake’s statement closely tracks the current position of Arizona’s two sitting senators, John McCain and Jon Kyl, both of whom supported comprehensive immigration reform in the past.
Jeff Flake was once one of the real adults in the Republican Party on immigration reform. Voters want their leaders in Washington to address comprehensive immigration reform, and Rep. Flake used to be one of the loudest voices fighting for federal action. It’s sad that he is denouncing his previous position on the issue, instead of continuing to challenge the GOP to do the right thing for Arizona, the country, and the Party’s own political interests.