Democrats' new amnesty gambit

Senator Joe Manchin has made favorable sounds about including an amnesty in reconciliation, although it’s not always easy figuring out what his stray comments to reporters in the hallways of the Capitol are really supposed to mean. As a supporter of the filibuster and an advocate of bipartisanship, it makes no sense for him to favor abusing the Senate rules to bypass the filibuster to force through a momentous change — more momentous than spending several-hundred billion more on infrastructure — on a party-line vote.

If the amnesty-via-reconciliation would be a bad process, it would also be terrible on the merits. At least previous so-called comprehensive immigration bills made a show of emphasizing enforcement as the trade-off for an amnesty, whereas Democrats now want only amnesty. It would flash another green light to would-be migrants to come here illegally, and, when illegal immigrants get green cards, they can begin to bring in relatives.

Democrats aren’t in a mood to care about any of this — they think, for some reason, that President Biden has a far-reaching mandate to enact a transformative agenda. If this were remotely true, they wouldn’t need to come up with ridiculous schemes to get around the fact that they have the slenderest possible Senate majority and there is no groundswell for them to use it to work their will on culturally fraught issues.