With Hannity Wednesday, Rubio explained that he once favored border security before legalization. “When I initially got involved in this effort in December of last year, I initially said let’s make sure everything, including that first step, is conditioned on the border and all these other things,” Rubio said. “Here’s the problem with that: Let’s say that it takes four years to do the border plan. What do we do with the millions of people that are here illegally in the meantime? Do we just ignore them?”

“Second,” Rubio said, “we need funding to pay for all these border improvements, and the way you get it is from the fines that these folks are going to have to pay.”

Hannity seemed skeptical. “Why wouldn’t it be better to just secure the border first totally and then move forward with dealing with the 11 million people or so that are in the country illegally?”

“That’s how I felt at the beginning, too,” Rubio answered, “The problem I encountered is what do I do in the meantime — ”

“How about nothing?” Hannity interjected.

***

On Wednesday, Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, who has supported forms of immigration reform since he was a House staffer in the 1990s, declared that he would “debate anybody” who calls the current bipartisan effort “amnesty.”

“Earned legalization is not amnesty,” Ryan said during a forum on immigration sponsored by the National Association of Manufacturers. “I will debate anybody who tries to suggest that these ideas that are moving through Congress are amnesty. They’re not. Amnesty is wiping the slate clean and not paying any penalty for having done something wrong.”

Ryan pointed to provisions baked into the Senate bill from the beginning that require those in the United States to pay a fine, back taxes, undergo background checks and enter a years-long probationary period before earning citizenship, a process that can take up to 15 years.

“That,” Ryan said, “is not amnesty.”

***

“The bill is an amnesty proposal dressed up in feel-good ‘pathway to citizenship’ rhetoric,” Heritage marketing vice president Genevieve Wood said. The Heritage Foundation’s $100,000 campaign is designed to “cut through the spin and show the proposal for what it really is—a rehashed version of the 1986 reforms that proved to be an abysmal failure,” she continued.

One Heritage image features a picture of Rubio and his recent promise to Univision: “First comes the legalization. Then come the measures to secure the border.” The ad’s tag line then reads: “Amnesty? Guaranteed. Border security? Not so much.”

“The pro-amnesty crowd is trying every trick in the deceptive marketing handbook—from re-branding ‘amnesty’ as a ‘pathway to citizenship,’ to the old bait-and-switch of promising strong security and delivering nothing but amnesty instead,” Wood added. “We’re trying to shine some light on what the bill really does, so the American people won’t be fooled again as we were in 1986.”

***

Senate Republicans don’t believe President Obama will enforce the bill’s border-security provisions–and they don’t want to let millions of illegal immigrants begin working their way toward citizenship until they see the president is serious about locking down the borders. That’s why they want those immigrants’ eligibility for citizenship to be contingent, or “triggered,” on the U.S. Border Patrol meeting benchmarks.

But Democrats don’t think Republicans will play fair when it comes to such a trigger. They fear Republicans will hold out for a trigger and then vote against the bill anyway. Or set benchmarks for a trigger that can’t be reached. Or establish a trigger but then deny the Border Patrol the funding it needs to meet the benchmarks…

Graham, something of a Democrat-whisperer for conservatives, may understand better than anyone the strength of the other party’s paranoia. “Here’s the problem for our Democratic colleagues,” he said Tuesday. “If you say 90 percent operational control of the border, it wouldn’t be hard to envision a Republican-controlled wing of the Congress where they undercut the ability to get to 90 percent through lack of funding.”…

Durbin was clear on this point: “90 percent trigger is totally unacceptable.”

***

Republicans are beginning to condition their support for the whole immigration package on Democrats’ agreement to include Cornyn’s amendment.

“If it goes down, the whole thing’s in jeopardy. If the Cornyn amendment passes, [reform] has a much better chance of getting across the finish line,” said a top GOP aide, adding that the provision is important because of Cornyn’s leadership position and credibility as a Republican up for reelection next year in a border state.

Republicans think they have the upper hand—and the leverage—because, they argue, Democrats have simply overestimated how much pressure the GOP is under to play ball on immigration reform. “Republicans will support this bill if they think it’s good policy, but they’re not going to support it out of political necessity,” a GOP Senate aide said.

***

“If you’re worried about dialing down conservative blowback, you probably would want to be able to show, here’s how you used your vote and your leverage to improve the bill,” said one aide to a swing-state Republican. “Use the leverage you have, secure some changes to the bill, then once the bill is strengthened some, come out and say, ‘Given these changes, I now feel comfortable supporting this legislation.'”…

Republicans who are moving toward backing the bill are holding tele-town hall meetings and drafting opinion pieces explaining their votes, several aides said, in an effort to lay the groundwork for casting a vote that could disappoint some on the conservative right. Strategists say it’s important for Republicans concerned about their right flank to be able to point to efforts to strengthen border security and other provisions of the bill — a tactic the Senate Republican aide called “prepping the market.” It’s also important to find a few supportive conservative activists on the border enforcement-first side who can be available for media interviews in the wake of any announcement…

“If you have a critical mass of 70-plus, the House has to act,” said one Senate Republican chief of staff. “If you don’t have 70, this thing’s not going to go anywhere in the House. If you don’t have 70, why does [Senator] number 61, 62, 63 walk the plank for something that’s not going to go anywhere?”

***

Schumer’s main fear is that jamming through a bill with only limited Republican support will embolden GOP opponents of immigration reform in both chambers into derailing the legislation he’s painstakingly worked to produce. And he’s vowing not to unravel the core of the bill as he negotiates with Republicans over the next three weeks of floor debate…

“No one wants to undo the core agreement, but some on the left apparently think we should reject any further Republican amendments and simply dare them to vote against the bill,” said a source close to Schumer. “That would be like spiking the football before we are even in the red zone.”…

At a Tuesday closed-door lunch, Schumer privately told Democrats that intermediaries to Boehner have advised him that winning the backing of more than just a handful of Senate Republicans will carry much greater weight with House Republicans.

***

A wise Latina, A.J. Delgado, recently explained on Mediaite.com why amnesty won’t win Republicans the Hispanic vote — even if they get credit for it. Her very first argument was: “Latinos will resent the added competition for jobs.”

But rich businessmen don’t care. Big Republican donors — and their campaign consultants — just want to make money. They don’t care about Hispanics, and they certainly don’t care what happens to the country. If the country is hurt, I don’t care, as long as I am doing better! This is the very definition of treason.

Hispanic voters are a small portion of the electorate. They don’t want amnesty, and they’re hopeless Democrats. So Republicans have decided the path to victory is to flood the country with lots more of them!

***

Suicidal Republicans have supported illegal alien amnesties dating back to the Reagan era. They have paid a steep, lasting price. As bankrupt, multiculti-wracked California goes, so goes the nation. The progs’ plan has always been to exploit the massive population of illegal aliens to redraw the political map and secure a permanent ruling majority.

Now, in the wake of nonstop D.C. corruption eruptions, SchMcGRubio and Company want us to trust them with a thousand new pages of phony triggers, left-wing slush-fund spending and make-believe assimilation gestures.

Trust them? Hell, no. There’s only one course for citizens who believe in upholding the Constitution and protecting the American dream: Stop them.

***

This morning on the Senate floor, Gang of Eight member Senator John McCain declared that the Gang’s immigration bill needed to pass in order to remove a “very huge stain on the conscience of the United States of America.”

***

Click the image to listen.

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