Even TPM seems incredulous. The left’s supposed to wait until after Republicans help pass amnesty to start shrieking that they’re Latino-hating racists who’ll never change.
Enter American Bridge, a prominent Democratic super PAC devoted to tracking Republican candidates and gathering opposition research.
The group is out with a dossier Monday entitled “Barriers to Reform: The anti-immigrant and extremist money blocking progress in the Senate.” The report singles out a handful of Republican senators for what it describes as “disturbing” anti-immigration rhetoric and notes donations they’ve received from individuals and foundations who have also funded border hawk groups like FAIR and NumbersUSA, among others.
So who’s on the list of these supposed “barriers to reform” with “troubling histories on the issue?” Every Republican who wrote the immigration bill…
The report, which comes as Republican members of the “Gang of 8” are garnering praise from their Democratic colleagues for shepherding legislation to this point, offers a preview of where the politics of immigration might be heading: Democrats aren’t going to let Republicans brand themselves as the party of immigration — and Latino voters — just because they finally changed their mind about blocking reform.
Good cop/bad cop. Schumer and Durbin spend Sunday mornings blathering about how they could have never gotten this far on immigration reform without Rubio, and meanwhile American Bridge puts together a 550-page oppo research book on him for Democratic use the second this amnesty sellout is over. At least, that’s what I thought was coming; evidently AB can’t bear to wait another month until the bill’s safely through Congress to get rolling. Could be that it’s a pressure tactic, likely in coordination with Democratic leaders, to try to keep Rubio and the other Republican “Gang” members in the fold if/when the long-awaited conservative backlash to the Gang’s bill finally begins. Give the GOP a taste now of what’s coming if they balk and maybe they won’t … even though this is certainly coming eventually whether the bill passes or not.
Naturally, Republican “Gang” members are using scare tactics of their own to try to build consensus:
GOP gang members will have one final argument, one they will most likely use privately with fellow Republicans. If the Gang plan goes down in defeat, the argument goes, Barack Obama will be a lame-duck president who has promised key Democratic constituencies that he will take action on immigration reform. He has already used his executive power to unilaterally enact a version of the Dream Act. If Congress denies him immigration reform, according to the argument, he will essentially do for the entire illegal immigrant population what the Dream Act did for young illegal immigrants: legalize them by declining to enforce current law. With the stroke of Obama’s pen, millions of illegal immigrants will become legal.
And it could all happen, the Gang members will argue, without any of the strict enforcement measures — E-Verify, entry-exit, border security and more — that are in the Gang bill. And Obama’s unilateral legalization would be virtually impossible for a future president, Republican or Democrat, to reverse.
In other words, after all the provisions and requirements and triggers, the ultimate Gang argument to conservatives and Republicans will be: Pass our bill, or face utter disaster.
Is that right? If that’s a surefire winner for Democrats, why haven’t they walked away from the bill already and demanded that Obama sign some sort of executive amnesty instead? That would give them all the benefits of legalization without any of the border-control measures they despise. Two answers, I think. One: There’d be too much risk of a backlash. Democrats need at least a fig leaf of border security to show centrist Dems and independents that they kinda sorta almost care about restricting the flow of illegals. If O suddenly decided he’d no longer enforce immigration law against the entire illegal population, the GOP could hammer liberals on it all sorts of ways — a de facto executive power grab over immigration law, dereliction of duty by the country’s chief law enforcement officer, another terrible economic measure from O in ensuring a glut of labor when unemployment’s still north of seven percent, etc etc. Too risky for Democrats, especially in purple states. Two: Obama could, maybe, refuse to remove any further illegals as a matter of policy but he couldn’t grant them citizenship, which is what the left craves. He needs Congress for that and any sudden moves from the executive branch on immigration would do more to scare off legislative support than to build it. Here’s your data set of the day: According to a poll by Latino decisions, 87 percent of illegals say they would seek citizenship if given the chance. (Politico notes that this contradicts Jeb Bush’s talking point that many illegals don’t really want to become citizens.) Assuming that’s true, using the standard figure of 11 million illegals currently in the U.S., that’s almost 9.6 million potential citizens in the pipeline. Further assuming that that population breaks down 60/40 for Democrats, which is generously in line with voting patterns among U.S. citizens of Latino descent, that’s a net take of nearly 2 million voters for Dems. Why would O jeopardize that by doing something dramatic about removal?
If you haven’t yet, read Mickey Kaus’s post this morning about Rubio’s answer yesterday when asked whether the path to citizenship will only be triggered if/when border security is improved. Sure sounds like Democrats are right in believing that security is not a trigger, but even if it is, you know what’ll happen if after 10 years the border’s still not secure. Today’s American Bridge assault is just the tippy top of the iceberg. Exit question: If Rubio’s right that the Gang of Eight bill is just a “starting point” and not a “take-it-or-leave-it offer,” why are McCain and Jeff Flake acting like it pretty much is a take-it-or-leave-it offer?
Update: Almost forgot another Kaus post worth reading — this one, noting reports that illegal crossings are already up thanks to all the immigration chatter in the Senate.