Schumer to Cornyn: Democrats will not accept your border-security amendment

Second look at John Cornyn?

No, I kid. This is, I assume, a little Chuck Schumer-style kabuki with Cornyn’s full, knowing participation.

“We cannot accept the Cornyn amendment,” Schumer said. “I’ve told John that already. The way it would change the triggers would jeopardize the path to citizenship. You should tell the people you’re lobbying that that is not going to happen. There may be other amendments dealing with the border that we can accept but not that one.”

The source close to Schumer adds, “Schumer likes Cornyn a lot personally, but he spent the first two years after President Obama’s election in 2008 trying to work with Cornyn on an immigration reform bill. He’s impossible to get to ‘yes’ on this issue.”

On the Senate floor Monday night, Schumer told Cornyn “you know full well that [your amendment is] a deal killer,” and that other Republicans are kicking around border security ideas that might ultimately be amenable to Democrats. But because Democrats don’t consider Cornyn’s vote gettable, there have been no staff- or member-level discussions since then.


Harry Reid also called Cornyn’s amendment a “poison pill” because it would require DHS to hit specific security targets before the second stage of the legalization process, i.e. making illegals eligible for green cards (after a waiting period), is triggered. Democrats aren’t terribly concerned about that second stage, though; it’s the first stage, in which illegals get probationary legal status, that’s crucial to them because it grants illegals a right to remain in the U.S. that, realistically, will never be rescinded regardless of what happens with border security. You know how Rubio likes to say that we have “de facto amnesty” now? Well, the first stage of legalization is a de facto green card. Citizenship will inevitably follow later, border security or not, because Republicans will fear the wrath of Latino voters if they oppose it. Obviously the Dems want the second stage to begin as soon as possible, but if there’s no way to get this bill through the House without caving on Cornyn’s amendment, they’ll suck it up and do it. By making a stink now, they’re trying to get Cornyn to soften his requirements a bit. Once he does, they’ll accept the amendment as a “tough but fair” compromise or whatever to make conservative border hawks think they’ve won some huge concession.

The Daily Caller suspects the same thing:

The amendment is “just political theater to provide cover for Republican congressmen who want to give the plutocracy what it wants… lowered wages and a morally righteous feeling,” Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a research nonprofit that advocates reduction of both legal and illegal immigration, told The Daily Caller…

“Contrary to what is being said, it is not a poison pill,” Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona told The Daily Caller.

“There are a couple of points that are tough, but we’re working on it,” said Flake, who is one of the four GOP senators in the Gang of Eight, which is led by Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat.

“We want to modify it … [and Cornyn] is trying to work on something that improves the bill,” Flake told TheDC a few minutes after McConnell, Cornyn and Reid spoke with reporters. “If he gets his amendment as it stands, he’ll work for the bill. and hopefully we can modify it [and] everybody can vote for it.”


Guy Benson heard from his sources on the Hill last week that Schumer was inclined to support Cornyn’s amendment. You can, therefore, read the “poison pill” nonsense coming from Schumer and Reid lately in one of two ways. Either Democrats (or liberal amnesty shills in their base) are grumpy about having to make a flashy concession to Republicans on the border so soon into the process, which in turn means Schumer has to put up at least the pretense of a fuss in getting Cornyn’s amendment watered down a bit. Or this is standard Democratic “Gang of Eight” kabuki insofar as it’s aimed at convincing conservatives that they’re getting the better of Reid and Schumer somehow if/when the Democrats cave and agree to add Cornyn’s amendment to the bill. The same strategy is at work, I take it, in Pat Leahy’s decision to reintroduce his own amendment extending benefits in the bill to the spouses of gay illegals. It’s going to fail somehow, even if Republicans end up having to kill it by filibustering it, but that’s just fine to Schumer and Reid. It amounts to another conservative “win,” which makes the bill more tolerable to the righties who could conceivably kill it, and it gives Democrats a talking point to use against the GOP even if the bill ultimately passes. (“We wanted to include gay spouses but those hateful Republicans blocked us.”) Exit quotation from the mastermind himself, looking ahead to his big win: “Illegal immigration will be a thing of the past.”


Update: Surprise.

Cornyn discussed details of the amendment at a Republican senators’ lunch yesterday. The provisions were well received by all the GOP lawmakers, with the exception of Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican member of the Gang of Eight who has publicly expressed opposition to adding triggers that would cause Democrats to abandon the immigration deal. The question now is whether Republican senators, with the exception of Graham, will unite behind the bill. Even more crucial is the question of whether Sen. Marco Rubio, the leading Republican on the Gang and the one lawmaker many GOP senators look to for direction on this issue, will support the amendment.

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