The Paul Ryan-Luis Gutierrez immigration alliance – [Updated with new CBO score]
posted at 1:36 pm on June 24, 2013 by Guy Benson
Illinois Democrat Luis Gutierrez, who once said his “only” loyalty is to the “immigrant community,” is an active member of the House’s immigration working group. Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan is not, but he sees himself as a “liaison” between Gutierrez’s ‘gang’ and the House GOP conference. Buzzfeed profiles this political “odd couple,” which may hold the key to the fate of immigration reform in Congress’ lower chamber:
“He’s very liberal,” Ryan said of Gutierrez. “He and I don’t see eye to eye on virtually every issue except on this. What I’ve learned about Luis is that he’s a man of his word and he really wants to get this done. He’s not trying to play politics, he is sincere in trying to find common ground to solve the immigration problem and I very much appreciate that. He’s true to his word.” As Gutierrez continues to craft a bipartisan immigration reform bill in the House, he has kept in close communication with Ryan, who could end up being an important Republican broker to conservatives wary of immigration reform.
“He is one of the bedrocks of the Republican Party and his support helps immensely.” Gutierrez said. Ryan has been supportive of immigration reform efforts since he worked as a young staffer in Jack Kemp’s office and there’s the often forgotten fact that Ryan was a co-sponsor of the 2006 immigration reform legislation in the House. “He has a very clear economic point of view but he also has a moral point of view. Everyone goes well really? Paul Ryan? But he thinks about the social justice issues,” said Gutierrez. “These are his words: ‘Luis we just can’t, as Catholics, we can’t have a permanent underclass. That’s not who we are.”
The 2006 reminder demonstrates that Ryan isn’t a Johnny-come-lately to this debate. As for the prospects for reform in the House, I offered Republicans some unsolicited advice in my Townhall piece this morning:
Embrace a comprehensive bill in the mold of Rep. Raul Labrador’s plan. Labrador calls for a potential path to citizenship for most of the millions of illegal immigrants who are already here, including a fast-track for the so-called “DREAMers.” Crucially, though, his proposal reverses the legalization and enforcement sequencing, spelling out a tough enforcement-first paradigm…Labrador’s plan isn’t necessarily perfect; it can be tweaked, revised and amended. But the key would be to craft and pass a workable path to permanent legal status and citizenship, triggered only when the new border security and enforcement standards are implemented and certified.
This ‘enforcement-first, legalization second’ approach wouldn’t be an especially tough sell with the American people, even though it’s viewed as a deal-killing nonstarter within the Beltway. Therein lies the chasm separating public opinion (which doesn’t even consider this issue to be a top priority in general) from elite opinion. Nevertheless, passage of a Labrador-style bill would require unity and message discipline on the part of House Republicans. The Luis Gutierrez’s of the world would no doubt mount vociferous opposition to any such proposal, and a thumbs-down from a guy of Paul Ryan’s stature would be a real blow to its prospects. Ryan says he and Gutierrez see “eye to eye” on immigration. If that’s true, would Ryan actively work to scuttle a potential deal that includes a path to citizenship? Sure, the normalization process wouldn’t start until certain meaningful border security and enforcement triggers were met and certified, but the legislation also would eliminate fears of a “permanent underclass.” Speaking of that underclass, the CBO determined that the (pre-Hoeven/Corker) ‘Gang of Eight’ bill would (a) reduce the flow of illegal immigrants by a mere 25 percent — allowing nearly 5 million new illegals to enter the US over the next decade — and (b) would only afford provisional legal status to roughly 8 million of the 11.5 million undocumented immigrants who are currently here. When you add up those disqualified millions and the millions more expected to arrive within the next ten years, you get…8.5 million people. That figure is larger than the group that stands to gain provisional legal status under the Senate legislation. How would Ryan and Gutierrez propose dealing with that new, sizable underclass?
Exit question (Allahpundit™): The CBO score referenced above doesn’t take into account the Hoeven/Corker amendment, which will significantly alter the price tag and enforcement efficacy of the legislation. How will the new expenditures and provisions change the CBO’s assessment of the bill? Hill sources tell me they don’t know, nor will they before today’s cloture vote — after which it’s game over in the Senate.
UPDATE – The CBO has published a flash score of the substitute amendment, literally minutes before the voting is set to begin. They’ve determined that Hoeven/Corker will add $40 billion to deficits (compared to the original bill — which they project to cut deficits by hundreds of billions), while “significantly” improving border and interior enforcement. Their previous assessment held that the ‘Gang of Eight’ legislation would curtail illegal inflow by 25 percent over a decade; presumably due to time constraints, CBO was unable to produce an updated numerical estimate for the new version.