McCain: DHS Secretary to have final word on border security?

posted at 9:01 am on January 29, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

That’s not what Marco Rubio thinks, but we’ll get back to that in a moment.  John McCain appeared on CBS This Morning to talk about the Gang of Eight proposal on immigration reform, and he starts out by insisting that “border security is a pre-requisite” for immigration reform.  But who gets to define when the border is secured in the Senate compromise plan?  Later in the interview, McCain says not the commission described in the plan, but the Obama administration:

And while McCain has previously said that the path to citizenship should be contingent upon securing the border with Mexico first, he insists the process of securing the border will not slow progress toward legislation.

The border state Senator will convene a “commission made up of the most knowledgeable people including border state governors,” and explained, “the final decision will be made by the secretary of homeland security.”

Later, though, McCain rebukes Jeb Bush’s criticism of the borders-first approach by telling Charlie Rose that “the people living in the southern part of my state deserve the same security you have in your studios.”  Perhaps the “recommendations” of the commission are stronger than what McCain suggests, but the entire premise sounds like they are merely consultants to the process.  Granted, if the commission insists that the border isn’t secure while the DHS Secretary certifies them as such, there will be some political blowback, but that’s not a guaranteed brake on the normalization process.

In my interview with Marco Rubio yesterday, he seemed to believe that he had signed up for the guaranteed brake.  And if the package doesn’t have it, Rubio committed to bailing out of it:

Yesterday, I spoke with Rubio about the proposal, and specifically about the trigger. “That’s one of the issues we have to work on,” Rubio said. “What was announced today was a set of principles.” Rubio explained that it will take a few weeks to move those principles into specific legislative language, but when that happens, the trigger has to work to make enforcement take priority. “I can tell you that based on my principles,” Rubio asserted, “I will not be supporting any law that does not ensure that the enforcement [prerequisites] happen, because I don’t want to be here in five or 10 years dealing with this again.” Otherwise, we will end up encouraging more people to flood into the U.S. illegally over the next few years, Rubio explained, while referencing what happened in 1986. “This is only worth doing if we ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”

Just to be sure, I asked the question a second time at the end of the interview. “You are committing that without an enforcement mechanism that requires the border security and the visa reform to be in place and be effective and certified by a commission in some sense, you are not going to go forward with the rest of this package?”

“I’m not going to support anything and I don’t want us to do anything,” Rubio replied, “that brings us right back to this point again in the future. And that’s why that we have to make sure that the way this law is structured, [it] ensures — guarantees — that the enforcement things happen. … Yes. That’s absolutely one of the key standards I bring, it’s one of the key parts of our principles.”

In my column for The Week, I write that Rubio is really the key to this deal:

That presents a problem for the other seven members of this group, if the final legislative language does not include those guarantees. If the trigger is real and has teeth, Rubio’s support could move a significant number of Republican votes in the Senate, and put pressure on House Republicans to finally put this issue to rest.

If Rubio peels off and announces his opposition to the effort, though, all bets are off. The Senate might still pass immigration reform, but they won’t find many Republicans other than McCain and Graham for cover; Jeff Flake could follow Rubio out of the deal under those circumstances. Without Rubio (and especially without both Rubio and Flake), the deal will go exactly nowhere in the House, which will only act on the bill if it gets substantial Republican support in the upper chamber first. John Boehner will have a tough time on this package as currently composed even with Rubio’s support. Without Rubio, it might prompt a real leadership fight, and Boehner’s unlikely to test out his standing to push through a proposal with the stench of 1986 on it, regardless of Democratic support.

It seems that even the members of this Gang of Eight are having trouble figuring out exactly what their own agreement meant.  As Greg Sargent put it on Twitter:

They will have a tough enough time pushing this through Congress even with a guaranteed brake on the process based on a lack of progress on border security and visa reform.  Without it, it’s going nowhere.  Maybe the Gang of Eight should compare notes a little more.


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Comment pages: 1 2

Latino guy willing to pick fruit for minimum wage is more valuable to this country than the Sandra Fluke crowd.

Illinidiva on January 29, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Just stop with this idiocy, already. It’s beyond annoying. And you seem to think that Latinos don’t control enough countries? How many latino countries are there, BTW? They’ve got a friggin continent and a half … all latino. And they have to break into America?

Give it a break. You’re wrong and you sound like an idiot. On top of that, illegals comprise more than just latinos and it comes down to an issue of our sovereignty and the Rule of Law, things that you seem to have no use for, whatsoever.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on January 29, 2013 at 11:12 AM

THIS is what surrender looks like.

dirtseller on January 29, 2013 at 9:12 AM

Indeed. At least the surrender of the GOP elites that rule us without our consent.

The important question is, is it the surrender of the likes of you, me and American citizens? I think not and hope not.

Let’s burn up the DC fax machines. Join NumbersUSA.

voiceofreason on January 29, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Keep it simple.

“No fool like an old fool.”

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 29, 2013 at 11:46 AM

And you seem to think that Latinos don’t control enough countries? How many latino countries are there, BTW? They’ve got a friggin continent and a half … all latino. And they have to break into America?
ThePrimordialOrderedPair on January 29, 2013 at 11:12 AM

Break into America? Are you kidding me? They were here way before we were. Most of the American southwest belonged to Mexico until the mid-1800s, after the Mexican-American war. See maps:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Territorial_evolution_of_Mexico

cam2 on January 29, 2013 at 11:58 AM

McCain loves the camera more than it loves him.

Sherman1864 on January 29, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Granted, if the commission insists that the border isn’t secure while the DHS Secretary certifies them as such, there will be some political blowback, but that’s not a guaranteed brake on the normalization process.

It’s not ANY brake on the normalization process. Come on Ed, I’ve known you since the Captain Ed days and you’re smarter than this. The Dems are plainly telling us the border security will not be any brake on their legalizing the illegals as soon as possible. You and the others are being openly played for fools, you have to see that.

jnelchef on January 29, 2013 at 12:14 PM

So the Clusterfark begins… conservatives must fight this bill as though their lives depend on it.

WordsMatter on January 29, 2013 at 12:22 PM

So the Clusterfark begins… conservatives must fight this bill as though their lives depend on it.

WordsMatter on January 29, 2013 at 12:22 PM

As though? Our lives do depend on it. The quicker that sinks in the better the chance we can save our lives.

voiceofreason on January 29, 2013 at 12:25 PM

Granted, if the commission insists that the border isn’t secure while the DHS Secretary certifies them as such, there will be some political blowback, but that’s not a guaranteed brake on the normalization process.

The Dems and President will ignore the commission and do as they please. How many times are we going to try and rationalize away how two-faced the Dems are?

WordsMatter on January 29, 2013 at 12:29 PM

The Trolls (RINOs) have taken control of HotAir.

WordsMatter on January 29, 2013 at 12:30 PM

Facts on how it is working out for “Obama’s People” in Calif.

http://www.streetgangs.com/hispanic/compton

Take the time to read some of the blogger post.

You have to work hard at it to not know what these open borders have done and will do.

And Brian Terry is still dead.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 29, 2013 at 12:39 PM

Too,

The other big lie.

“The borders are to long, to remote to secure.”

Yet, 1968, in a war zone, in a triple canopy jungle, in monsoons, with 360 IBM computers, an electronic border fence operated for 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971 to the end in 1972.

Fast forward to the current lies and think of the high tech we have now, that it is being used in Iraq and Afganistain.

Yet this gang of 6 or what ever the numbers are that will lie about this in the House and Senate,,, stands in front of U.S. all and flat ass lie about the facts.

just google operation igloowhite

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 29, 2013 at 12:54 PM

It sounds like it’s time to MELT THE PHONES at the Capitol switchboard!!!

Melt the phone lines, STOP AMNESTY!!

Melt the phone lines, STOP AMNESTY!!

Melt the phone lines, STOP AMNESTY!!

Melt the phone lines, STOP AMNESTY!!

http://www.congress.org/congressorg/issues/basics/

To find your senators’ and representative’s phone numbers, you may use our searchable online congressional directory or call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202)224-3121 and ask for your senators’ and/or representative’s office.

PappyD61 on January 29, 2013 at 1:06 PM

McCain is a joke.

jawkneemusic on January 29, 2013 at 1:10 PM

So the Clusterfark begins… conservatives must fight this bill as though their lives depend on it.

WordsMatter on January 29, 2013 at 12:22 PM

Our Nations’ sovereignty is at stake.

PappyD61 on January 29, 2013 at 1:21 PM

You’re clearly ok with advancing liberal causes, so you did win in 2012, didn’t you?

xblade on January 29, 2013 at 10:21 AM

Ummm.. Yeah totally enjoyed those tax increases this year. Also, enjoy the fact that I’m paying money to Medicare and Social Security and won’t get any benefits in return. Frankly, I find Sandra Fluke, Lena Dunham, and the Occupy Wall Street crowd more dangerous to the U.S. than a Mexican guy who wants to pick fruit for less than minimum wage in the U.S. And if immigration bill helps us win an election in 2016 and stop the Sandra Flukes and other upper middle class spoiled liberal brats from emptying the U.S. Treasury than I’m all for it.

Illinidiva on January 29, 2013 at 10:30 AM

Ummm….better that a bunch of ILLEGAL invaders suck our treasury dry, along with the Flukers? When ILLEGALS get citizenship, that SS check and Medicare will be even more of a unicorn dream because they will sink the system. You see, when the third world dumps their criminals, uneducated, and baby makers on us, they will sink the ship faster than Obama could ever dream of doing with his Cloward/Piven Economic Plan. M’kays?
Btw, you do know what ILLEGAL means, you delusional imbecile, ummm, m’kays?
Apologist moron.

RovesChins on January 29, 2013 at 1:33 PM

All this does is give McCain the opportunity to cave in and blame somebody else. He needs to get the hell out.

ultracon on January 29, 2013 at 1:33 PM

So now these RINOs are blackmailing us.The only way. we we get a secure border is to accept amnesty .Well shove it!McCain, Graham. and Rubio must go!

redware on January 29, 2013 at 1:38 PM

.The only way. we we get a promise of a secure border is to accept amnesty .Well shove it!McCain, Graham. and Rubio must go!

FIFY. We know how DC keeps such promises. We’ll get amnesty but no border secured any better than it is now.

Well, once the Leftists secure absolute and permanent power, that is. When they do, may come the time when the Open Border has served its purpose in destroying our Republic and its finally secured and they’ll be more selective in who gets to come in here.

hawkeye54 on January 29, 2013 at 3:16 PM

And we should take McRINO’s word because…?

mojo on January 29, 2013 at 3:17 PM

Introducing the omnipresent but never omniscient center of the universe:

John McShame!

Come back go away, McShame!

Sherman1864 on January 29, 2013 at 5:56 PM

I’m getting just a little bit tired of everything that old fart McCain is involved in, being referred to as the “Gang of whatever” If he and his butt boy Lindsey want to emulate the Chicomms and start their own Cultural Revolution, I say pack up and head for Bejing. Otherwise, just call yourselves the Committee for Honest Government or something equally stupid and quit sucking up to the Chinese.

Mr. Grump on January 30, 2013 at 8:03 AM

Comment pages: 1 2