2 New Reasons For Amnesty Paranoia

Mickey Kaus Columnist
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7 Reasons to Keep On Worrying About Amnesty: You shouldn’t have believed the CW when it was credulously positive about the chances of immigration amnesty passing this year, and you shouldn’t believe it now that amnesty’s been virtually declared dead (Politico: “Until a few weeks ago, Hill strategists in both parties had said they thought immigration had a chance in 2015. Now, the smart money is on 2017 …”).

Sure, it’s probably not too soon to say that the prestigious Atlantic wishfully misread the summer recess (“Immigration Reformers are Winning August”**). Republican Congresspersons don’t seem to be returning to DC with a burning desire to move a legalization bill. But that doesn’t mean they won’t.

In fact, there are two new reasons for paranoia on the part of opponents:

1. Boehner might retire: If the Speaker isn’t trying to get reelected he might not be worried about being deposed by his own caucus if he betrays them on immigration. Could he bring a legalization bill to the House floor, in defiance of his party, then sail off into a lucrative K St. lobbying practice on a cloud of establishment praise for his bipartisan statesmanship?

2. GOP leaders seem to be faking it with their “enforcement first” talk.  Even Republican leaders who embrace the possibility of legalization tend to add that it should only occur “after you have the borders secure.”  What do they mean by this? If they mean the borders have to actually be, you know, secure, that will suffice to block a deal.  But Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s latest memo to his caucus suggests they don’t mean much:

… the Judiciary and Homeland Security committees have produced a number of specific bills which the House may begin considering this fall. Before we consider any other reforms, it is important that we pass legislation securing our borders and providing enforcement mechanisms to our law enforcement officials.

In other words, Cantor’s version of “Enforcement First” merely means the House passes some enforcement bills before it passes an amnesty bill–without waiting to see if the “enforcement mechanisms” ever actually take effect.  A bit of choreography–that’ll fool ’em!

Add those two factors to the previous five (5) reasons for paranoia:

3. The GOP leadership’s attempt to con conservatives with “no-special-pathway-to-citizenship” legalization, which is still legalization (and still provides a pathway to citizenship).  As amnesty activist Frank Sharry puts it, Republicans “can preserve the sound bite and we can have the policies that we want.”

4. The possibility of Grand Bargainesque tradeoffs–e.g. Obama gives a bit on sequestration or even Obamacare in exchange for  …

5. Syria and the The “Sh-t Sandwich” Theory, embraced by Mark Krikorian, kausfiles and Jon Chait, which holds that Republicans are less likely to want to give Obama a victory on immigration if they’ve been forced to swallow a load of (to them) offal on the budget, on Obamacare–and now, potentially, on Syria. Here is Chait’s elegant formulation:

[M]y analogy here is that if they’re going to try to make their members swallow an immigration shit sandwich, they’re not going to want to feed them a bunch of other shit sandwiches first.

But should Obama lose his Syria vote,  as seems likely, the sandwich stops with him. Republicans won’t have to look to immigration for a “win” over the President, opening up the ominous possibility of bipartisan cooperation.. … Note: The competing, opposite “momentum” theory–that a loss on Syria would “weaken” Obama and make him less able to push reform–is also a potential source of paranoia, of course. What if it’s true and Obama wins on Syria? Then he’s “strengthened”

6. Syria the Squirrel: From Breitbart.com

[T]here is no doubt the special interest groups lobbying for amnesty are using the quiet period to drive forth their efforts under the cover of darkness, and quietly lock up support for when they make another public push–which could be sooner than many in the mainstream media expect.

“The Chamber, AFL-CIO, Silicon Valley and corporate-funded faux Republican front groups are loving this, because they know it’s taking the opposition’s eye off the ball,” one GOP congressional aide said. “But, many know that this is the case.” [E.A.]

7.. All the “amnesty-is-dead” talk  is just lulling opponents to sleep. Breitbart again:

[T]he talk of amnesty being off the table until 2017 … means establishment politicians could get something through while people’s attention is focused elsewhere.

Stay paranoid, my friends.


**–At the one town hall I attended, in Fallbrook, CA,  there wasn’t unanimous, loud opposition against amnesty. But there was substantial opposition (also substantial support, but mainly from out-of-district activist types). It’s not like opponents didn’t show up.

Mickey Kaus