In a perfect world, these measures would not even be necessary. In a perfect world, the federal government would have spent the previous decades enforcing our laws and keeping its promises of securing the border. But our immigration system as we know it is far from perfect. In fact, it’s painfully and dangerously broken.

I understand the American people’s frustration. I know that these promises have been made in the past. But here’s the reality of it: the choice before us is to try to fix this, or leave it way it is and risk an even bigger problem due to Washington’s inaction. What we have today is a disaster of epic proportions. Eleven million human beings living among us, and we don’t know who they are. They are working but not paying taxes. There are criminals among them. That has to be solved. We need to fix this, and this is our chance to fix it.

***

If the bill passes the Senate with 70 votes or more, as supporters predict, that could mean the bill is the product of sweet reason and compromise between the parties. Or it could mean the bill won so many votes because it is a bill filled with special provisions meant to buy off particular senators or generally calm the political anxiety of a Republican Party that feels it must improve its electoral chances with Hispanic voters. In a time when voters loathe Congress, will they see this bill as a rare piece of fruit or will they reason that anything that has the support of so many members of a body so thoroughly discredited must be awful?…

So much of the debate about immigration reform has been about a lack of trust in government and the lawmakers who make laws. Opponents of reform have constantly warned that they are in danger of repeating the mistakes of the 1986 immigration legislation. Amnesty was granted but the promised enforcement against future illegal immigrants never materialized.

The surest way to repeat this outcome, they have argued, would be to rush through a bill that no one looked at closely. They’ve been on particularly careful watch since after the 2012 election, when so many Republicans started promoting the idea that comprehensive reform must pass if the GOP is ever going to win over Hispanic voters and regain its national standing. These opponents are particular skeptical of the Corker-Hoeven amendment that increased border security to keep out illegal immigrants. “There is some real angst about the Corker border security amendment,” said one senior Republican Senate aide. “It’s full of add-ons to get votes, was written in secret and in a hurry. That doesn’t tend to end well. But it will be cover for enough people to vote for it to raise the number from around 60 to around 70.”

***

“On a subject as important as immigration reform, there have been nine amendments vote on this bill in the last two weeks,” Cornyn, the number Republican in Senate leadership, said. “Nine amendments. To listen to our colleagues in the majority who are happy with the underlying bill because they wrote it, they act like we’ve had a fulsome opportunity to offer amendment but we have been willing to have votes so long as we get votes on our amendments. It’s not just the majority that has the opportunity to modify the underlying legislation and to debate it. The minority has rights too and our side wants to a right to choose our own amendments, not to have the Majority Leader choose which of our amendments he’s going to ordain to allow debate and votes on.”…

“That’s not Democracy,” Cornyn said. “That’s not the United States Senate. That’s a dictatorship.”

***

“You can pretty much guarantee that if this bill is hanging out there over the August recess, conservative activists are going to be motivated,” said Dan Holler, a spokesman for Heritage Action for America, one of the Washington-based conservative groups that opposes the Gang of Eight’s bill.

Several Republican aides on Capitol Hill said they were conscious of the time crunch Congress faces. With just five legislative weeks left before the August recess, the Senate is only now getting around to voting on the full immigration reform package. Action in the House has been even slower. There is no announced timeline for immigration legislation; there isn’t even an agreement on whether the House should take up a comprehensive bill or a number of smaller measures in a piecemeal approach.

Two House leadership aides said they expect the House to act on immigration before the August recess. But, they said, it’s unlikely a conference committee, in which the House and Senate iron out differences between their respective bills, would be underway by the time Congress breaks for the summer.

That likely means members of Congress will head home to mobilized crowds of the bill’s opponents. Immigration reform backers counting on votes from farm state Republicans may find those members reluctant to go against such a tidal wave of opposition back home.

***

When lawmakers return to the Capitol in September, they will be facing another financial crisis as they debate raising the country’s debt ceiling. The four- to six-week countdown toward extreme limitations on government payments to Social Security or military operations will do two things: It will suck all the life out of any deliberative legislative effort, immigration included, and it will polarize the political parties. It will be far from fertile ground for the biggest immigration overhaul in 30 years.

Proponents of the Senate’s immigration package are hoping that a strong vote this week among senators will push the more reluctant House Republicans to act, if only to get the emotional issue out of the way. “We know there’s going to be hard-line opponents. We know there’s a number of people, [Rep.] Paul Ryan, [D-Wis.], and others, who are in favor of this and will be pitching it to their colleagues.… That’s going to be the group that’s interesting to watch,” said America’s Voice Executive Director Frank Sharry.

But Sharry acknowledged the most problematic hurdle to passing an immigration overhaul—support from a majority of House Republicans—still eludes proponents. “The House leadership will try to muster 120 votes for a path to citizenship. I find it hard to think they will get there,” he said.

***

You cannot have a functioning democratic republic when the laws are so voluminous no one can know what the law is. And that is especially the case when (a) the rationale for passing new laws — according to “reform” proponents like Senator Marco Rubio and Rep. Paul Ryan — is that we don’t enforce the laws currently on the books; (b) key parts of legislation consist of commitments to do what previously enacted law already commands; and (c) the president, notwithstanding his oath to take care that the laws are faithfully executed, claims the power to refrain from enforcing whatever laws he disapproves of. Washington has made a farce of the legislative process and of the once proud boast that we are ”a nation of laws not men.”…

Whatever the merits of the legislation (and who can say with confidence what they are?), the senate process alone is reason enough to vote against it. World’s greatest deliberative body? It is astounding that any lawmaker could vote for this beast and still call himself a conservative supporter of limited government.

***

Rubio’s rapid evolution has baffled some of the people who rallied to his support in 2010. “He came across as the genuine article who believed things to his core, a passionate, from-the-heart principled conservative who spoke with conviction,” says one Republican who helped promote Rubio’s Senate candidacy when few establishment GOP figures supported him. “And immigration was not a small issue. It was so front and center in the 2010 campaign that it does create a certain level of distrust on other issues.”…

Back in 2008, and again in 2012, Romney’s opponents never let him forget the flip-flop that marked his move to the national political stage. In coming years, the same might become true for Marco Rubio.

***

Just like they did for Obamacare, the permanent political class is sugaring this bill with one goody after another to entice certain senators to vote for it. Look no further than page 983 of the bill, which contains a special visa exemption for foreign seafood workers in the 49th state despite huge unemployment numbers in the American workforce. This is obviously a hidden favor designed to buy the votes of Alaska Senators Murkowski and Begich…

According to the CBO, the bill won’t stop illegal immigration, but it will drive down wages for average hardworking Americans. These would be the same blue-collar working class voters of every ethnicity who chose to sit home in 2012 instead of turning out to vote in the swing states we needed to carry in order to stop Barack Obama’s promised “fundamental transformation” of America. I note this just as a helpful reminder to those who believe the hyperventilated new hype claiming that conservatives need to support this bill in order to win future elections. That’s 100% wrong. The crony capitalists in D.C. and their corporatist friends on Wall Street might think this amnesty boondoggle is a great idea, but the average American worker in our middle class who’ll soon see lower wages is the one left out in the cold, along with those hard working immigrants who followed the rules and are working here legally.

Passing this bill with an unsecured border and within a growing welfare state under Barack Obama is economic insanity. Have people already forgotten that our bankrupt government is running up massive unsustainable deficits every year? We can’t afford to pay the piper now, much less the trillions of dollars more in welfare and entitlements for the millions who are here illegally today that will be granted this bill’s benefits. According to the Heritage Foundation, the bill provides only a temporary delay in granting illegal immigrants eligibility for all U.S. welfare and entitlement programs. We’re looking at an explosion of costs in the very near future. There is no way to pay for the added untold millions of new enrollees in these growing government programs. Pass this, Congress, and Obama will have succeeded in fundamentally transforming America.

***

Via the Corner.

***

“We have seen this play before.”

***

Click the image to listen.

ml