Future president: The new Republican Congress will pass comprehensive immigration reform

Note well: He is indeed discussing comprehensive reform here, not a “security first” bill as most GOPers tend to mention when they’re put on the spot with a question about amnesty in the next Congress. And he seems pretty chill about it. Which is odd because Mitt, a classic establishment Republican in nearly every way, nonetheless campaigned two years ago as an immigration hard-ass who famously supported “self-deportation.”

Sometimes, in my moments of darkest cynicism, I suspect that he’s been pro-amnesty all along and only supported self-deportation because he needed a way to pander to conservatives who were angry at him over RomneyCare. Guess we’ll find out what the truth is after he’s inaugurated in 2017.

Despite the fact that the Senate passed a comprehensive and bipartisan immigration reform bill, former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney told Fox News Sunday that if the GOP retook the Senate on Tuesday an immigration reform bill would almost certainly make it to President Barack Obama’s desk for a signature.

“You’re going to see a provision to secure the border, deal with those who come here illegally, and to make sure our immigration policies are more open and transparent to the many people who do want to come here illegally,” Romney promised. “That’s going to happen. You’re going to see a bill actually reach the desk of the president if we finally have someone besides Harry Reid in the Senate.”

Dave Weigel can’t help noticing that Republicans are sending mixed messages on immigration this fall, vowing on the one hand to block Obama’s executive amnesty for illegals while promising on the other, a la Mitt, to do what the Democrats couldn’t by getting something done on immigration in Congress. There’s nothing contradictory about those two positions if you care about proper constitutional procedures. You can support immigration reform on the merits while also believing that only Congress has the power lawfully to make it happen. How many voters are sticklers about procedure, though? Electorally, the whole point of this endless immigration push by Republicans is to build goodwill among Latinos. Will Latinos swoon if the GOP makes a big show of trying to block O’s executive amnesty next month while vowing all the while — scout’s honor! — to pass an amnesty bill of their own just as soon as they’re done with that?

But maybe that explains why Romney’s so confident that a Republican Congress will act. Logically, to avoid bad PR with Latinos, Boehner and McConnell need to start talking up comprehensive reform before Obama issues his amnesty order. Waiting until later is bad politics: Latinos will be unimpressed since it’ll look like the GOP is simply following Obama’s lead and conservatives will be angry because it’ll look like their leadership is rubber-stamping Obama’s power play. Conservative anger at an amnesty sell-out is a fait accompli anyway, granted, but Boehner making the case proactively with an emphasis on security is better than reacting to Obama, when it’ll look like a panic move by a new majority that was elected to block the White House. So maybe Romney knows there’s something in the works and knows that it’ll be rolled out soon. Obama will probably wait on amnesty until after the Georgia and Louisiana Senate run-offs, to give Nunn and Landrieu their best shot at winning, but once they’re done there’s nothing stopping him. The congressional GOP will have a month to put something together. Like Political says, electorally this was the year of the RINO. Only makes sense to end it with a big RINO flourish.