The Search for the Magic Fig Leaf

Mickey Kaus Columnist

A quick three-step guide to the state of play in the Senate’s consideration of Gang of 8’s disastrous, nation-altering “comprehensive” (i.e., amnesty) immigration legislation:

1. Many conservatives–including Sean Hannity–seem to have actually believed the Gang of 8 bill would hold off on legalization until border security measures were in place.  They are fools (See also Ayotte, Kelly). That was never the case. “Provisional” legalization of the 11 million illegals currently in the U.S. comes first, virtually immediately. Then comes whatever border security the bill will produce, then (Step 3) the granting of green cards and ultimately citizenship to the already legalized “provisionals.” The Gang made this  legalization-first structure emphatically clear this past week when it rejected the amendment from Sen. Grassley that would have required “effective control” of the border for six months before any legalization.  It also became clear that legalization comes first when Sen. Rubio said, “First comes the legalization.”

2. Apparently, even the semi-fake post-legalization “trigger” advertised by Sen. Rubio must also be mostly fake, if it’s going to satisfy “Gang” supporters. Specificaly, they rejected Sen. Cornyn’s amendment that would have required a “90 apprehension rate” at the Southern border before legalized illegals could move on to their green cards (Step 3).  Cornyn’s amendment wasn’t that tough–“apprehension rate” is a bureaucratic construct, easily manipulated, and in reality a 90% rate seems to mean that actually about half of those who try to sneak across get through. Plus Cornyn dropped any requirement for a border fence. But it was still too tough for the Gang.”. It’s not clear that the Gang will tolerate any sort of “trigger” that actually might in some circumstances not be met and therefore stand in the way of a smooth transition to Step 3’s green cards and citizenship. Otherwise, pro-legalization lobbyist Frank Sharry will be upset and complain to the press, which monitors his every mood. Sharry especially didn’t like the idea that a future secretary of DHS might decide the “90%” standard hadn’t been reached (even though the 90% standards is more likely to be manipulated in the other direction, i.e. to give the green light).  Sen. Schumer suggests un-manipulable “specific” standards like ‘”20 drones” that’ll impress the bubbas–which dovetails with Sen. Rubio’s notion that Congress should write the details of the border plan itself.

3.  So the search goes on for the Magic Fig Leaf–a specifics-filled reformulation of Cornyn’s amendment that would not create a possible obstacle to Step 3–or even actually require anything dramatic in the way of security measures (e.g. , a completed fence, or 100% use of E-Verify employment check)–but would give Republicans “something  to go back home and tell people that they have taken serious steps,” as Rubio put it. Cornyn seems ready to water down his “trigger” language further.  

The Magic Fig Leaf will relieve all legislative tensions! In theory, it will allow the Gang of 8 bill to gain the votes of a slew of Republicans (starting with Cornyn and McConnell) and reach Sen Schumer’s goal of getting 70 Senate votes for the measure in order to pressure the House to take up similar legislation.

Without the M.F.L., does the Gang have even the 60 votes needed to  pass its bill? Unclear. Rubio has suggested no, others say yes.

The Magic Fig Leaf is expected to be unveileed ” God willing, next week.” … 

P.S.: One possible hang-up: Illegal immigrants with DUI convictions. …

P.P.S.: Another wild card: voters! Here is that Senate contact list again. Feel free to share your opinions. The Capitol switchboard remains 202-224-3121. They would love to hear from you! … Even for Republicans who’d like to have it both ways,remember, there is a flip-side alternative to the M.F.L., scenario, in which GOP senators go on and on about how they want an immigration reform bill, but it somehow dies a tragic death without anyone being conspicuously to blame. The more voters protest, the more likely such an unfortunate accident becomes. …