An Alternative to the Gang of 8?

Mickey Kaus Columnist
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If not Schumer-Rubio, what? Here’s an alarming and revealing twitter exchange with Sen. John Cornyn (at least I think it was Cornyn–it would be embarrassing if it was Manti Teo or an underage girl) today [in chronological order ]:

CORNYN: @kausmickey Harry Reid and the D majority control the Senate agenda, not the R minority, so we have to play the hand we’ve been dealt

ME: @JohnCornyn Thanks. But do you have to support a (modified) legalization-1st bill? Why not oppose? Put trigger before legalization?

 CORNYN:  @kausmickey conference with House is endgame. Otherwise we are stuck on status quo. Know of no one who thinks that is a good outcome 

I know someone!  More than one someone actually. What’s so terrible about the status quo? The Southern border’s getting more secure (we’re told). There’s a “de facto amnesty’ (we’re told).  Illegal entries from Mexico are in abeyance. The problems surrounding immigration are, if anything, considerably less acute than they were in 2007, when the last “comprehensive” amnesty was defeated.  There’s no crisis. Or does Cornyn think there is a crippling shortage of workers available to fill the number of jobs being generated by the U.S. economy? I doubt it.

What I suspect Cornyn, and other Republicans, are thinking about is political/legislative strategy. If Congress doesn’t pass some kind of “comprehensive” amnesty under President Obama, how will Republicans avoid being labelled obstructionists in 2014 and 2016? True, that’s not a position you’d take if you thought Obama’s legalization -before-enforcement plan was a really bad idea–imagine if Nancy Pelosi had had a comparable reaction to Bush’s Social Security “privatzation’ plan. (”The status quo is unacceptable’. We can’t just say no!’) But let’s give Cornyn, or whoever’s tweeting at his “Verified” account, the benefit of the doubt. Is there anything Republicans can propose that’s better than, on the one hand, nothing, and on the other hand a broad “enforcement first” bill the Democrats will reject**?

Of course there is. Immigration reform doesn’t have to be all or nothing. The obvious mini-deal, that would give something (but not everything) to several important constituencies would involve a) mandating the “E-Verify” system for checking new employees for their immigration status b) in exchange for formalization of the “DREAM Act” mini-amnesty for immigrants brought into the country as minors and c) some measured liberalization of high-tech and agricultural visas to please business interests.

This isn’t Enforcement First. It’s more simultaneous “tit for tat.” Confidence building! If Republicans make enough of a public fuss about their support for the DREAM part of it (always the most appealing component of amnesty) as well as the sensible E-Verify part, it should be hard to tar them as anti-Latino even if Democrats reject the idea, as I suspect they would. (They’d hate it all the more because it cherrypicks the most popular bits of Schumer-Rubio, leaving the broader general amnesty without a legislative locomotive.)

Republicans are unlikely to lose in 2014 in any case. If they don’t, they can simply reintroduce the “mini-deal” in 2015.

I don’t see why this approach doesn’t give them a good measure of protection against Latino umbrage–real and manufactured–while also avoiding the Schumer-Rubio disaster: a general semi-immediate legalization with border security measures designed to semi-immediately fall apart once Democrats get what they want.

Which brings us to a final series of Cornyn tweets, in response to some of the nonexistent defenders of the status quo who came out of the woodwork:

CORNYN: Obama admin controls enforcement “@metaphorsbwithu: @AnnCoulter @JohnCornyn The “status” quo would be even better if actually enforced.”

CORNYN: obama won’t enforce “@Bobolilly: @AnnCoulter @JohnCornyn Aren’t there already immigration laws on the book? I rest my case

And Obama will enforce the new provisions that Cornyn has been busy writing? Hello? … Maybe it was an underage girl Manti Teo. ..


**– For no good reason, I should add. With an enforcment first approach that required E-Verify etc and then waited to see if they were implemented, current illegal immigrants might well get citizenship faster than under Schumer-Rubio’s 13-year “path. That’s because once the enforcement regime had survived court challenge–in 5 to 8 years–you could grant citizenship fairly quickly, without the gratuitous delays Schumer and Rubio have stuck in as “boob bait” for conservatives.


Mickey Kaus