Earlier this week, dozens of conservative groups including the Cincinnati Tea Party sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner urging him to declare the Senate package “dead on arrival.” They complained that the Senate bill, by virtue of giving up to 11 million illegal immigrants a shot at legal status, would make life harder for U.S. workers “struggling to reach the bottom rung of the economic ladder.”
Whether the Tea Party will be able to reprise the kind of grassroots battle it waged on the health care law remains to be seen. On health care, the movement benefited from a Republican Party and base that largely was on the same page — that is, against ObamaCare.
On immigration, the party is split. Fourteen Republican senators voted for the bill that passed the Senate last week. Several influential conservative economists have come forward to argue that immigration legislation would be a boon for the economy, with newly legalized workers and an enhanced legal immigration system giving the economy the jump-start it needs.