Anti-amnesty group slams Jonathan McConnell’s immigration position, says he is embellishing
WASHINGTON — The country’s most well-known anti-illegal immigration group is wading into Alabama’s U.S. Senate primary after 33-year-old Republican Jonathan McConnell told a local conservative group that plans to remove millions of illegal immigrants from the country are impractical, and he would propose giving them “tax ID numbers.”
A voter attending the monthly meeting of the Rainy Day Patriots Tea Party asked McConnell what he would do with the illegal immigrants already in the country.
“So you issue everybody a tax ID number today, right? And I know you’re not a fan of this,” McConnell said before being interrupted.
“I’m tired of politicians saying that (expelling illegal immigrants already in the country) can’t be done,” replied the questioner, Edward Bowman, who supports Shadrack McGill, another candidate in the race. “It can be done.”
“I’m all about trying,” McConnell interjected. “We’ll try that first, but if it doesn’t work. OK, so let’s try it. I’m all about it. And if we can deport 3 million, and then if that works, then hey…”
The audience member continued to press the issue, saying, “So we issue them a tax ID, so we’re going to give them amnesty is basically what you’re saying.”
“No, no, no,” McConnell insisted. “So you give them a tax ID number, and if anybody is caught paying one – you do it based off the corporations. So if a corporation is using someone illegally. So they’re paying taxes on one, but you also fine them – or not fine them – but you add pretty much double the taxes paid on that one person, you never give them a single benefit, right?”
(Audio and a full transcript of the exchange can be found here.)
McConnell’s proposal appears similar to one advanced by the Obama administration, which calls for giving illegal immigrants federal identification numbers.
The IRS said such a plan would allow illegal immigrants to retroactively file tax returns for the previous three years, which would cost American taxpayers roughly $1.7 billion over the next decade.
Roy Beck, executive director of NumbersUSA, told Yellowhammer this week that his organization is adamantly opposed to McConnell’s proposal.
“NumbersUSA opposes giving tax ID numbers to illegal migrants,” he said plainly.
After McConnell received criticism for his immigration proposal and incumbent Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) began running ads accusing him of being pro-amnesty, McConnell pointed to the “true reformer” label he had received from NumbersUSA as evidence that the attacks were unfounded.
“I am so honored to have been named a ‘True Reformer’ by conservative Immigration policy group NumbersUSA,” McConnell said in a statement. “My opponent, seeing his poll numbers slip, is making false accusations against me. But he is sorely mistaken. He and his cronies are trying to fool conservatives like you. But we both know our votes cannot be bought… NumbersUSA rates me significantly higher than 37-year incumbent Richard Shelby.”
Beck told Yellowhammer that McConnell’s claim that he is rated “significantly higher” than Shelby is inaccurate. Both Shelby and McConnell received the “true reformer” label based entirely on a survey they filled out.
“NumbersUSA offers every candidate a survey about 12 categories of actions that would limit the number of illegal and legal immigrants and the negative effects on jobs, wages and taxes,” Beck explained. “‘True Reformer’ status is based on answers to survey questions on what candidates pledge to do in the future.”
In addition to the survey, elected officials also receive a score based on their actions during their time in office.
“Grades are based on past votes and co-sponsorships of any candidate who has served in Congress,” said Beck. “(Senator Shelby’s) actions over his entire congressional career earn a straight A grade.”
In light of Mr. Beck’s comments, Yellowhammer asked the McConnell campaign if he stands by his assertion that he received a “significantly higher” rating than Senator Shelby, and if he continues to believe giving tax ID numbers to illegal immigrants is a viable solution.
McConnell campaign spokesperson Elizabeth BeShears replied with the following statement:
Jonathan may not have a voting record on immigration yet, but is exactly because of his work outside the D.C. bubble Shelby has inhabited for the last 37 years that he would be able to pursue an effective strategy to finally address the illegal immigration problem.
The assertion that Jonathan McConnell is in favor of amnesty is highly inaccurate and dishonest. He believes Congress must use every tool at its disposal, beginning with securing the border and allowing local law enforcement agencies to assist ICE in deporting all the illegal immigrants they can find. To assist in that, Jonathan advocates using economic means as well, including requiring the use of eVerify, and fining severely the businesses caught breaking the law.
The viral video that helped propel Mr. Beck and NumbersUSA to their current status as the country’s most well-known anti-amnesty group can be found below.