Hillary to call for "full and equal" path to citizenship for illegals today

If she were anyone else, I’d assume it was just a coincidence that she’s rolling out her immigration platform on Cinco de Mayo. Hillary being Hillary, though, it’s got to be deliberate. It reeks of trying too hard to connect with people, just like her dopey “average Joe” van trip to Iowa. What better way to show Latinos she really cares than by waiting until a Mexican holiday to talk about amnesty? That … sort of makes sense, right?

Kudos to CNN, incidentally, for reminding us that Hillary supported a “path to legalization” in 2008, the same position now adopted by every Republican presidential candidate but one which is far, far too moderate for the left following Obama’s landslide over Romney among Latinos three years ago. Just as she’s “evolved” on gay marriage and the need to “topple” the one percent, she’s now a true blue amnesty devotee.

A number of Clinton’s campaign aides feel immigration will be a wedge issue in the 2016 general election and are encouraged by the fact that Clinton has performed better than most Democrats — including President Barack Obama in 2008 — with Hispanic voters.

Clinton will say Tuesday “that we cannot settle for proposals that provide hard-working people with merely a second-class status,” the aide said, noting a subtle knock against Republican hopefuls — like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio — who have backed legalization efforts but not full citizenship…

“Whoever the Republican nominee is, they will have to go through the primary,” said one Clinton aide. “And at best, they will have to support second class status for immigrants in order to get through that primary, which is a position that will be untenable in a general election.”

Yup, that’s the playbook. It’s also why any Republican effort to move left on immigration will earn them nothing politically unless they move as far left as the left itself. No one’s demanding “self-deportation” this time, so the new unacceptably harsh right-wing position that’ll be demagogued relentlessly next year by Democrats is … the Clinton 2008 prescription of legalization without citizenship. That’s Jim Crow for illegals, Hillary will say; without a route to becoming citizens, you’re consigning them perpetually to a labor class without full rights.

The obvious countermove for Republicans, which you’re already seeing hints of if you pay attention, is to note that their support for legalization now doesn’t mean they won’t also support a path to citizenship later. Only Ted Cruz, I believe, has ruled out citizenship for illegals. Even Jeb Bush, who absurdly argued against a path to citizenship in a book two years ago, acknowledged recently that he could be open to it depending on the details. Marco Rubio, of course, co-wrote and voted for a Senate bill that contained a path to citizenship, a fact he’ll be much more eager to mention once he’s GOP nominee than he is right now. Rand Paul opposed the “special” path to citizenship created by the Gang of Eight bill but supports citizenship for illegals through currently existing channels. And Scott Walker — who the hell knows anymore. He used to support it, then he hinted that he didn’t while affirming that he did, then he allegedly said that he did before insisting that he didn’t, and now suddenly he’s skeptical even of legal immigration. Rest assured, if he ends up as nominee, he’ll find a way back to supporting it. All of which is to say, the debate next year between Hillary and her Republican challenger will be less about whether illegals should become citizens than when. The Republican will need to take a “security first” position, meaning a longer timeline until the citizenship process can begin. And then that position, in which illegals are all but assured of citizenship but not quite as quickly as Democrats would like, will be “the new Jim Crow.”

The more interesting question when Hillary speaks today is whether she’ll also start making promises about extending Obama’s executive amnesty. I don’t like the sound of this:

Two sources familiar with Tuesday’s event told BuzzFeed News that Clinton will stress support for a legislative overhaul and a path to citizenship and will ask students about how DACA is working — what is good about the program and what could be done better. But she may also ask about what more a president could do if Congress once again fails to pass legislation, suggesting that she is open to further executive action on immigration, which would delight activists who have seen legislation die in Congress too often to be excited about general calls for “immigration reform” from candidates…

“She should meet with undocumented people, look them straight in the eye and tell them ‘I’m not going to deport you,’” said Pablo Alvarado, executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON). “And tell them ‘I’m going to go beyond DACA and DAPA.’”…

A source familiar with Clinton’s message Tuesday said she will use it as an opportunity to lay out the areas like a pathway to citizenship and support for Obama’s executive actions where Republicans “either have not or can not go because of their party’s politics.”

That’s Obamaism in a nutshell: If a Republican Congress won’t pass my agenda, I’ll pass it myself. And that’s very much on Hillary’s mind given that the House is likely to remain in Republican hands throughout her entire first term, regardless of what happens in the Senate. If she wins in a landslide next year with an even bigger share of the Latino vote than Obama got (an unlikely outcome, but still), Boehner and his friends in the GOP donor class will be so spooked that he may well finally allow a comprehensive immigration bill to reach the floor and sail through with help from moderate Republicans. If the race is close, though, and Republicans chip a few points off of O’s 2012 advantage with Latinos, forget it. In that case, Hillary will be looking to build on Obama’s executive actions and earn back some of those lost Latino voters for 2020. Politically there’s no downside unless Democrats face an immigration backlash at the polls. And since it’s nearly a cinch that the GOP nominee next year won’t be pushing hard on this issue for fear of sparking a backlash against himself, that downside risk of that backlash for Dems is negligible. Remember, Obama’s executive mega-amnesty last November didn’t quite legalize the entire illegal population in the U.S., just the parents of U.S. citizens. That’s many millions of people but there are still many millions more who could in theory be legalized under yet another executive order. Something for Hillary to aim for. At the very least, she knows the GOP won’t put up much of a fuss.

I’ll leave you with this:

Believe it or not, Bush and Rubio actually fare a bit better there than Romney did in 2012. (He lost Latinos 71/27.) Rubio’s numbers in particular are interesting in that he’s holding Hillary to fully eight points less than Obama’s take in the last election. Waaaaay too early to draw any big conclusions from that, but if the GOP could ensure that Hillary would do no better than the low 60s among a crucial Democratic core constituency by choosing the first Latino major-party nominee, the donor class would warm very, very quickly to Marco Rubio. And have no doubt, Rubio’s pollsters are working hard right now to prove that that’s true.