How should we apportion blame on this one? Show of hands: Does anyone think Pelosi and Schumer would agree to an enforcement measure as useful as E-Verify for an amnesty as limited as a DREAM bill? E-Verify won’t be put on the table by Democrats unless and until a mass amnesty for all adult illegals is on the table too. There’s no point in the GOP insisting on a demand they know the other party won’t accept if they’re serious about getting a deal done. A “minor” amnesty gets only “minor” enforcement improvements in return.

On the other hand, show of hands: Does anyone believe Senate Republicans are eager to expand E-Verify? If Pelosi and Schumer turned around tomorrow and said they’re open to including that in a DREAM deal, the Chamber of Commerce and agricultural lobby would descend and demand a meeting with Mitch McConnell post haste. Democratic support for open borders remains the chief obstacle to immigration reform in the United States, but lord knows it ain’t the only obstacle.

[S]ome outlines of an agreement are becoming clearer. For instance, the [Republican] senators [working on a bill] have all but ruled out including a mandatory workplace verification system known as E-Verify in a final DACA agreement, according to multiple lawmakers engaged in the talks…

Several of the GOP senators involved in the immigration discussions are fine with punting negotiations over a nationwide mandatory E-Verify system, particularly since Democrats will not accept any policy provision that will help identify other immigrants here illegally…

“There are large segments of some important sectors, like agriculture, where we need to do E-Verify with immigration reform to make sure that there’s an adequate legal workforce,” Cornyn said. “And if we start adding too much stuff to the DACA-border security approach, then we get back into comprehensive immigration reform and nothing happens.”

Instead of E-Verify they’re going to try to get a “down payment” on ending chain migration by barring newly legalized DREAMers from bringing their relatives to the United States too — at least until they’re naturalized. How that ends chain migration rather than simply delays it by a few years, I don’t know. It’s going to make the bill exceptionally difficult to sell to populists. If they’re essentially signing off on turning a DREAM amnesty into a mass amnesty, albeit with a delay of a decade or so before the “mass” part fully begins, why shouldn’t Republicans insist on E-Verify as the price?

In a piece endorsed by Steve Bannon, Andrew Sullivan weighs the electoral consequences of Democrats’ increasingly fanatic pandering to illegal immigration activists. Lotta truth to what he says here, but it comes with the caveat that weak bipartisan immigration deals redound to the GOP’s disadvantage too. The public writ large will view them as being as soft on illegals as Democrats are, undermining the restrictionist argument for preferring the GOP. And right-wing populists, ever exasperated on this subject, will turn to populists even more loose-cannon than Trump to enforce the borders. Sullivan:

The Democrats’ current position seems to be that the Dreamer parents who broke the law are near heroes, indistinguishable from the children they brought with them; and their rhetoric is very hard to distinguish, certainly for most swing voters, from a belief in open borders. In fact, the Democrats increasingly seem to suggest that any kind of distinction between citizens and noncitizens is somehow racist. You could see this at the last convention, when an entire evening was dedicated to Latinos, illegal and legal, as if the rule of law were largely irrelevant. Hence the euphemism “undocumented” rather than “illegal.” So the stage was built, lit, and set for Trump.

He still tragically owns that stage. What Merkel did for the AfD, the Democrats are in danger of doing for the Trump wing of the GOP. The most powerful thing Trump said in the campaign, I’d argue, was: “If you don’t have borders, you don’t have a country.” And the Democrats had no answer, something that millions of Americans immediately saw. They still formally favor enforcement of immigration laws, but rhetorically, they keep signaling the opposite. Here is Dylan Matthews, also in Vox, expressing the emerging liberal consensus: “Personally, I think any center-left party worth its salt has to be deeply committed to egalitarianism, not just for people born in the U.S. but for everyone … It means treating people born outside the U.S. as equals … And it means a strong presumption in favor of open immigration.” Here’s Zack Beauchamp, a liberal friend of mine: “What if I told you that immigration restrictionism is and always has been racist?” Borders themselves are racist? Seriously?

Seriously. The dilemma for Republicans now is that Washington is already so distrusted on immigration that even a good deal with real enforcement improvements will spook border hawks, who’ll be convinced that Democrats will water it down or blow it up entirely once they have the power to do so. If they do, both parties will end up being blamed despite the fact that it was the Dems’ handiwork: Republicans will be attacked by the right for having gotten rolled on the deal, having failed to accelerate implementation of the new security measures before the left could block them, and so on. Trust will erode further. Populists will get more desperate and more radical. Even a “minor” amnesty could have major repercussions.