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McCain's Silicon Valley values

May 22, 2008 |  5:57 pm

Forget San Francisco values -- John McCain's line on immigration is starting to sound more familiar, and friendlier to northern Californians. McCain spoke with Silicon Valley entrepreneurs today, flanked by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and eBay CEO Meg Whitman (formerly of the Mitt Romney camp). Peter Hecht of the Sacramento Bee reports:

Asked by Silicon Valley panelists on what he would do to grant more visa for skilled technology workers, McCain broadly advocated the comprehensive immigration reform plan he had backed with Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy in Congress....

McCain said they should be allowed to seek legal status in a "humane and comprehensive fashion" through a program "they can count on and trust."

Responding to a question about so-called H1-B visas for Silicon Valley workers, McCain said: "We have to attract the best and brightest minds. It isn't just H1-B visas. In our agricultural sector, they can't find workers as well. We need a temporary agriculture (worker) program."

McCain repeated his line about illegal immigrants being "God's children" — one he's been using since he openly backed comprehensive reform, and one that aims to mollify his base. (The board likes it too.) So far, it's unclear whether he chimed in when Schwarzenegger voiced his support for driver's licenses for illegal immigrants.

It's also notable that he went further than his Silicon Valley interlocutors asked him to go — they were focusing on a relatively small segment of the immigrant population (temporary skilled workers) that's easier, politically, to support. But McCain extended his answer to include agricultural workers and even said "comprehensive" — seen as a synonym for amnesty in some parts.

Small steps.

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