GOP senators: We’ll pass immigration reform next year if we take back the Senate

posted at 4:01 pm on May 15, 2014 by Allahpundit

Give Rubio credit for being candid about this. I think some conservatives are under the impression that if Republicans retake the Senate and thereby remove any agenda-setting power from Democratic hands, that’s the end of amnesty until 2017 at the earliest. Nope. The GOP is not going to risk another presidential election without something to show Latino voters on immigration. They’ll risk a midterm because Latinos won’t be a force in November, but they won’t risk it in a high-turnout campaign with the White House on the line.

And look. While it’s true that a Republican-only bill would be better than the Gang of Eight bill, it’s only marginally true. If you think Obama and the Democrats are going to agree to some sort of tough security-only measure without a deal on legalizing illegals too, you’re kidding yourself. They know that the whole point of this effort politically for the GOP is to make nice with Latinos and that the closer we get to 2016, the more desperate Republicans will be. That’s the Democrats’ leverage. If McConnell and Boehner try to pass something that, say, makes legalization conditional upon security improvements, Reid will either filibuster it or Obama will veto it and then McConnell et al. will panic at the possibility that they might not pass something before 2016 after all. That is to say, no matter how much the GOP blathers about border enforcement and security, what they’re really interested in — both for political reasons and to please their masters in the business lobby — is legalization. If they passed a security-only bill and did nothing to amnestize illegals who are here, that might put them in an even worse position with Latinos in 2016. Why on earth would they do that?

“I certainly think we can make progress on immigration particularly on topics like modernizing our legal immigration system, improving our mechanisms for enforcing the law and I think if you did those things you could actually make some progress on addressing those who are illegally,” Rubio said Wednesday evening of the prospects of passing immigration reform in 2015.

He said the Senate next year should pass immigration reform through a series of sequential bills that build upon each other to enact comprehensive reform. This approach would be more palatable in the House, he said…

Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the lead author of the comprehensive Senate immigration bill, signaled Wednesday that Democrats would not be willing to join in such an effort

He said House Republicans have a narrow window between early June and the August recess to act.

“I am saying that if Speaker [John] Boehner [Ohio], [House Majority] Leader [Eric] Cantor [Va.], and other Republican leaders refuse to schedule a vote on immigration reform during this window, it will not pass until 2017 at the earliest,” he said on the Senate floor Wednesday.

In theory, having Senate Democrats serially filibuster a bunch of smaller, piecemeal GOP immigration bills would let Republicans argue in 2016 that Democrats are now the obstacle to amnesty, not them. In practice, it won’t work that way. Democrats will simply point out that they’re filibustering in the name of getting a better deal for illegals, which is true, and then Obama will issue an executive order before 2016 on immigration to show Latino voters that Democrats are still their bestest friends. They have lots of leverage, even as a Senate minority. Maybe, though, Senate Dems would agree to splitting comprehensive reform into smaller bills purely as a formality, so long as they get a good deal from Republicans on legalization. There’s no risk, after all, that the president’s going to sign a small bill on border security if Democrats agree to it and then veto a bill on legalization; Obama could refuse to sign anything unless and until the legalization bill has passed both houses. Why conservatives should care whether a bad deal is passed comprehensively or piecemeal is beyond me, but it sounds like that’s going to be the next way they try to sell this to the base. “We’re going slow, step by step, even though … we’re going to end up in the same place as the Gang of Eight.”

Anyway, via Breitbart, here’s your would-be GOP nominee wondering why anyone would question the economic dynamism that comes with importing lots of unskilled labor at a time when unemployment in America is already stubbornly high. Skip to 19:30 for the key bit.

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