A little something left over from Friday, and a rare example of the RNC kinda sorta getting to the right of congressional Republicans on a major issue. Eric Cantor’s “KIDS Act” would, I believe, give DREAMers a path to citizenship. The RNC won’t go that far:
The Republican National Committee passed a resolution Friday calling on Congress to pass an immigration reform bill by the end of the year—but it stopped well short of the bipartisan compromise passed by the Senate earlier this year, omitting a “path to citizenship” for any class of illegal immigrant.
The resolution calls on Congress to create a special legal status for illegal immigrants brought to America as minors—or “DREAMers,” as immigration activists call them, for the eponymous bill to provide them legal status—which would include a renewable five-year work permit. They would have to provide proof of employment or enrollment to retain the status.
For illegal immigrants who came to the United States above the age of 18, under the plan advocated by the RNC they would be eligible for two-year renewable work permits, but no path to citizenship.
DREAMers can work for five years before they’re required to renew their permit, but older illegals will have to do it every two years. No citizenship for anyone — in theory. Mickey Kaus is right, though: This sort of “compromise” smells a lot like the probationary legalization granted to illegals in the Gang of Eight bill that’s despised by border hawks. Realistically, no future Congress is going to rescind those work permits; as such, illegals get to stay as long as they like until the political will builds (whether as a condition of better border security or not) to finally go the whole nine yards and grant them a path to citizenship later. Except, notes Kaus, it’s even worse than that:
The political geniuses at the Republican Donor National Committee, meeting in Boston, have officially embraced the “worst of both worlds” position on immigration–legalization without citizenship. This proposal has virtually all the defects of a Legalization-First amnesty–it is a Legalization-First amnesty–without the alleged political benefits. The RNC’ move was immediately welcomed by the immigration activist group, America’s Voice:
RNC MESSAGE TO IMMIGRANTS: “YOU ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO BE AMERICAN CITIZENS”
So you see it has already begun to win hearts and minds among Latino voters.
In other words, the RNC bill is designed to look stricter than the prospective House bill (as a pander to the base, maybe) even though it really isn’t, and the ostensibly strict part is being seized on by liberals to ruin any political benefit the RNC’s hoping to get out of this in the first place. Cantor and the Republicans on the Gang of Eight could see that coming, which is one reason why both of their bills include a path to citizenship for at least some illegals. If you don’t do that, the left will attack by claiming you want “second class” or “underclass” status for newly legalized illegals. (Sample quote: “It says you can get to the back of the bus, and never have a chance to earn the full rights and responsibilities of citizenship.”) Granting DREAMers a path, at least, helps to defuse that argument. There’ll still be pushback from amnesty shills regardless — read Legal Insurrection’s post about kids of illegal parents asking Republicans at town-hall meetings why they want to deport their daddy — but it’s tougher for Democrats to demagogue a bill with a citizenship path in it than without.
Actually, I think the “why do you want to deport my daddy?” rhetoric isn’t about getting the House GOP to support a mass amnesty, which ain’t happening, but rather to lay the groundwork publicly for Obama issuing an executive order imposing a de facto mass amnesty in case immigration stalls in Congress. Greg Sargent reported on Friday that congressional Democrats are nervous about people talking about that right now since it risks rallying Republican/conservative opposition against reform. The more I think about it, though, the more I think O, despite the political perils of issuing that kind of order, really might do it as his trump card next year if nothing happens this year. Dave Weigel blogged last week that there’s already a 2010 DHS memo laying out the case for a (temporary) amnesty by executive order. O never followed through on that, but he did of course halt the deportations of 400,000 DREAMers last year before the election.
The Democratic argument for Obama expanding that policy now to all illegals is simple: Republican leaders are too afraid of alienating Latino voters at this point to put up much a fuss if he did. There’d be the rote statements about a “grave” affront to separation of powers, executive overreach, blah blah, but Republicans won’t go to the mat to snatch back legalization from illegals who’ve just been granted it by presidential diktat. You might see a few more hardline border hawks like Steve King file suit, but that’s fine with O. They’re happy to have someone like King as the face of the GOP in opposing the new executive amnesty. If the White House wins in court, great; they’ll claim that they went to bat for Latino illegals and won a glorious victory. If they lose in court, great; Steve King and the Republican grinches can take all the blame. The only risk to Obama is that this might mobilize conservative and independent voters in the midterms, but if the public was willing to tolerate executive amnesty for DREAMers as well as various illegal executive actions to suspend parts of ObamaCare since then, why would they revolt now? Ask yourself this: How likely is it that a newly chosen Republican nominee in 2016 would campaign on rescinding the executive order issued by O? QED.