Former AG to GOP: No 'Kicking and Screaming' on Immigration Reform

Wednesday, 06 Feb 2013 03:50 PM

By Bill Hoffmann and Kathleen Walter

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The GOP’s quest to capture the Hispanic vote is coming down to the wire and will depend on how it responds to immigration-reform talks in the next few weeks, the nation’s first Latino attorney general says.

“If Republicans are viewed as sort of being brought across the finish line kicking and screaming, that’s not going to bode well,” Alberto Gonzales, told Newsmax TV in an exclusive interview.

Gonzales — who served as White House counsel, and later, attorney general under President George W. Bush — believes his party needs to send “the right message” as well as come up with the right person to deliver that message.

“The tone of the discussions will be important. Hispanics, like most Americans, will respond to a hopeful, optimistic tone,” he said.

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“The messenger is going to be important. Who’s going to lead the Republican Party? It’s got to be someone Hispanics look at and say this person understands us, he gets us, and we believe this is someone that we can trust.

“So if we have the right message, messenger, and tone, we have a good shot at making inroads in the Hispanic vote.”

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Gonzales wants the legislation to ensure that illegal immigrants have some hope for the future.

“At a minimum, those who are qualified should be put into some kind of legal status so that they’re not living in the shadows,” he said.

Gonzales, also a law professor at Belmont University, spoke about the controversial Justice Department memo that presents a legal case for killing U.S. citizens with terrorist ties, saying it’s not that unusual.

“This program has been in existence, and people have been asking for legal justification for the program for quite some time,’’ he said.

“What’s a little bit unusual here is the fact that this was not released publicly … that’s the thing that’s surprising to me.’’

Gonzales said the key question surrounding the killing of American citizens perceived as enemies is whether they are “legitimate” enemies.

“If we were to confront someone on the battlefield shooting at an American soldier, you know, we don’t stop and ask, are you an American citizen so we can give you process?” he said.

“If you’re on the battlefield, if you’re the enemy and you’re presenting an imminent threat, you are an enemy combatant and you can be killed, and the president, under laws of war and under the authorization of military force, can certainly do so.”

But whether the president can order the assassination of an American citizen irrespective of whether they’re an enemy combatant is “a much different and … a much more difficult question,” he said.

On the question of whether John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s chief counterterrorism advisor who’s been nominated by the White House to lead the CIA, should be confirmed, Gonzales says yes.

“My own view is that the president is entitled to have his team, and if he wants to have John Brennan to head up the CIA that’s entirely his call,” he said.
“The Senate has their own player here as well but my own view is … the president’s entitled to have his nominee, unless, of course, there is some background issue that disqualifies this person.”

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