Chuck Schumer: I refuse to let border security become a barrier to citizenship for illegals

Skip to 10:15 for the key bit. Is this endgame already for Rubio? He’s sworn up and down that unless Democrats agree to make border security the trigger for a path to citizenship — i.e. measurable security improvements first, before any path is created — he’ll walk away. Now here’s Schumer sounding an awful lot like he’s saying we can’t make border security the trigger for a path to citizenship. Quote:

“We want the border to be secure. It’s more secure than it was several years ago, but it has a ways to go. And different sectors need different types of security. It’s a lot different having security in the Tucson sector than off the stretch in Texas, which is bounded by the Rio Grande,” Schumer said on Thursday.

“But we’re not using border security as an excuse or block to the path of citizenship. We just want to make sure — and this is very important both substantively and politically — that there is a secure border, and we’re going to work for that. But it’s not — and Dick [Durbin] and I and Bob [Menendez], as well as our three Republican friends, want to make sure the border’s secure but not to use it as a barrier to prevent the 11 million from eventually gaining a path to citizenship.”

Time for Rubio to cut the cord, says Mark Krikorian. He’s right that the GOP’s going to get rolled if this scheme passes, but I’m not sure Schumer’s categorically ruling out using border security as a trigger here. What he’s saying, it seems to me, is that he won’t let border hawks use the trigger as a pretext to forever delay the citizenship process. That’s why Durbin rushes to the mic right after him and emphasizes that they want some sort of objective metric of security in the bill so that, if it’s met, the border can be declared officially “secure” and they can move on the citizenship phase. Without that, if “security” is based on a subjective assessment, conservatives in the Senate will supposedly go on claiming unto eternity that we’re not quite there yet. I could be wrong in reading him that way, but look: Schumer surely knows Rubio’s position. He also knows how important Rubio is in getting conservatives to buy into comprehensive reform. Why knife him in the back now, just three days removed from the press conference announcing the bipartisan plan, when they won’t even have a draft bill ready for another month? I have no doubt that Schumer does oppose using border security as a trigger, but I bet he’d be willing to concede on that if he can negotiate a security “metric” that’s forgiving enough to ensure that the trigger is indeed triggered. What he really wants is instant probationary legal status for illegals, and Rubio’s already agreed to that in theory. If that stays in the final bill and the bar for border security can be negotiated nice and low, why wouldn’t Schumer agree to letting it be a trigger?

Like I say, watch Durbin too. He refers specifically to making the path to citizenship “contingent” upon stronger border security. It’s just that that security has to be measurable so that it’s a real trigger, not something vague that border hawks can finesse to delay legalization.

Update: Conn Carroll says it’s too early for Rubio to walk away but that he expects he’ll be gone within 24 hours once the draft bill is published. I think it’ll be sooner than that; Rubio won’t wait for the draft bill to appear before cutting the cord if he knows there’s stuff in it that’ll make conservatives choke. But Schumer’s little performance here likely affects the odds. If this week started with, say, a 40 percent of Rubio quitting the group, let’s bump that up to an even 50 this evening.