Sorry–No Immigration Holiday For You!

Mickey Kaus Columnist
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You may not be interested in amnesty, but amnesty is interested in you: Here I thought we’d get a break from the immigration war–with the House in recess, committed to  pursuing “regular order” as it figures out how to react to the Senate’s embarrassingly bloated, semi-fraudulent work product. I was wrong.  What GOP House members hear from constituents this week while back in their districts will affect what they decide to do at their big upcoming July 10 meeting. So if you see your Congressperson at a local town hall meeting, be sure to tell him or her your mind. …

And do not be lulled to sleep by articles in pro-Gang publications that are surprisingly downbeat about the chances of any legalization bill actually becoming law.  National Journal‘s Fawn Johnson wrote one headlined, “Time’s Up: Immigration Reform Won’t Pass This Year, while The New York Times said “The prospects appear grim for the pro-overhaul Republicans.” If only that were true. The bill’s passed the Senate, after all. If the House Democrats replicate the Senate Dems remarkably disciplined (unanimous) support shown in the upper house, there is probably a “Dems +17” majority in the House for some form of legalization bill, if it’s allowed to come to the floor. And the Speaker, the guy who gets to decide whether it comes to the floor, is widely believed to secretly favor it.

You don’t have to be a paranoid anti-amnesty obsessive to envision a scenario that would give President Obama a huge, transformative second-term victory. (It helps, of course.)

Conservative opponents of the Gang face an obvious trap, outlined by Bill Kristol: Speaker Boehner lets them introduce and pass their own strong, enforcement-only anti-illegal immigration bills. Build the fence! Mandate E-Verify! End Sanctuary Cities! But these oh-so-tough little bills then go to a stacked conference committee with the Senate and come back as ‘legalistion-first’ bills. Then Boehner just has to somehow engineer one floor vote to produce an amnesty. The operative cliche in the Senate was “fig leaf;” in the House it’s “Trojan Horse.” Except, of course, that many of the conservative sponsors of the “tough” House bills might be in on the trick–‘Just let us posture with our little bills before you beat us!’

Democrats aren’t really the key players in this process, since–this wildly unpersuasive Atlantic piece notwithstanding– it’s assumed that as long as a bill provides for near-instant legalization, they will swallow virtually any conservative add-ons, including denial of citizenship to the legalized illegals.**  Of course, in the meantime they are going to complain! But theyknow that once a bill passes, they can change it–and call GOPs anti-Latino in the process. Conservatives, on the other hand, will never be able to undo legalization.   …

There are limits, of course. Would Dems swallow a law that altered the basic structure of the Senate legislation, so enforcement measures (like E-Verify and the border fence) had to be completed before any legalization? Probably not. They’d rather ‘have the issue” than that bill. But it would make a great Trojan Horse!

The great hope of opponents is that a fast, electronically accelerated Flight 93-like learning curve will prevent a second disaster. Many conservatives seem (inexplicably) to have believed Marco Rubio when he said he wanted to ‘secure the border first.‘ They’re unlikely to cut the same slack to Paul Ryan, the Rubio of the House. And they’re onto the Trojan Horse strategy: “No conference with the Senate bill,” says Kristol. The “#noconference hashtag is already trending on Twitter. … Well, it’s on Twitter, anyway.

Is there some unexpressed, semi-subconscious force that might motivate Boehner to break his deal? Yes! Money. In terms of campaign contributions, legalization backers seem to have outspent opponents by a margin of 24 to 1. Of course, this led the press to launch one of its familiar campaigns against the influence of money in politics … oh wait, that didn’t happen at all. Instead, WaPo‘s Chris Cillizza and Sean Sullivan wrote movingly of  “[o]ne voice lost in this battle over what the right, next move is on immigration for the party.” The lost voice ?  “The major donors of the party who serve as the bundlers of presidential campaigns and the funders of super PACs.”

Who will speak for the bundlers?

P.S.: There is also the discharge petition scenario. Maybe someone has a compelling reason why that’s not a possibility. But I haven’t heard it. …


**- Remember when Dems were allegedly threatening to derail the Senate bill over its treatment of gay marriages? Good times.

Mickey Kaus