FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Beware the Rubio-Cornyn Amnesty Rope-a-Dope
The most dangerous thing for supporters of open borders is public scrutiny of their plans. They have already noted that the administration’s endless scandals have provided them with cover to slip into the amnesty end-zone without anyone noticing. Fortunately, despite the divided attention of the conservative movement, most of the egregious provisions of the amnesty bill have been thoroughly exposed and disseminated throughout talk radio. With the understanding that this bill cannot pass sans support from representatives of conservative-base constituencies, the lobbyists for foreign interests are now employing a rope-a-dope strategy.
Senator Rubio is running around the media circuit asserting that he will vote against his own bill if the security measures are not strengthened. Now, stop and ask yourself this question: Why did Rubio spend three weeks challenging conservatives (his “fact vs. myth” series) who pointed out the blatant loopholes in his bill? Why is he still starring in the obnoxious Zuckerberg ads touting the very provisions of the bill he now repudiates?
It is quite obvious that Rubio and his staff are flummoxed by the degree of opposition from the conservative base. He knows that Democrats have the votes to pass the bill with just the GOP gang members and a few other usual reliable moderates. Just today, several red state Democrats indicated their support for the bill (laying waste to the myth of the moderate Democrat). Yet, Rubio doesn’t want to be a part of the misery he helped orchestrate unless he is joined by a large group of Republicans. Likewise, Schumer and the Democrats want Republicans to own this unpopular boondoggle so as to remove the political albatross from their necks.
Enter the Rubio-Cornyn amendment that will be offered next week. Now that Rubio is feigning outrage over the most blatant shortcoming of his bill – the lack of definitive enforcement – he is now trying to co-opt the outrage with a vacuous amendment designed more to give Republicans cover than to actually solve the problem.
On the surface, this amendment sounds like everything we have asked for. Here’s how CQ explains it (subscription req):
His proposal would require that federal agents have full control, or “situational awareness,” of the entire border and that they apprehend 90 percent of all potential border crossers in all border sectors.
It also would mandate fingerprint scanners or other biometric controls at all land and sea ports and the full implementation of the E-Verify employment verification system before those in provisional legal status can transition to green cards.
Cornyn wants the Department of Homeland Security to issue a comprehensive strategy to gain control of the border while also cutting in half the wait times at land crossings.
Right now, the bipartisan immigration bill (S 744) only requires that the Homeland Security secretary implement a plan to improve border security at three of the most high-risk border sectors. The government must also implement E-Verify and roll out an improved visa processing system at airports and seaports — although one that stops short of nationwide biometric screening — in order to set in motion the path to citizenship.
The floor amendment revisits language that Cornyn proposed during the bill’s Judiciary Committee markup. Those proposals were rejected and Cornyn voted against the bill in the committee.
Cornyn’s latest amendment also would boost funding for border protection efforts by $1 billion a year over six years and authorize 10,000 new border control agents over five years. Some misdemeanors — such as aggravated assault, domestic violence, child abuse or drunken driving — would become grounds to disqualify people from earning legal permanent residence.
Obviously, the biggest gaping hole here is that all these enforcement benchmarks are only preconditions to the green cards and citizenship, not the immediate legalization. The immediate “RPI status” is the only process that matters. We all know that once they are legalized, there is no way that the failure to secure the border would trigger a revocation of that status. Moreover, there is no way we could legally and politically wall off permanent status or citizenship for that long. It’s a red herring.
So why wouldn’t they just propose an amendment to implement all of the security measures on the books and remove the magnets before any legal status is granted? It’s not that hard to understand. What good is adding more agents or more funding if the administration is committed to blocking the agents from enforcing the law? Why not place the entire amnesty behind the barrier of enforcement, thereby forcing Obama to actually implement enforcement if he wants his sacred amnesty?
The answer is very simple: Many Republicans are committed to just “passing something.” They know that Democrats would never agree to anything that actually verifies enforcement before legalization. That’s why they are wagering that, despite their inevitable gripes at the beginning, Democrats will ultimately sign off on a plan that gives them legal status immediately, knowing all too well that they will easily get the rest down the road.
This is similar to a narrative that played out with a group of progressive senators during the Obamacare debate. Back in 2009, a group of liberal senators sent a letter to Obama threatening to oppose any healthcare bill that was not predicated on single-payer. Well, we all know how that turned out. They all fell in line to support something that stopped short of single-payer, with the confidence that Obamacare would easily lead to that result in the near term.
I fully believe that Schumer would use the Cornyn amendment as a starting point for negotiating a compromise deal with “his Republicans” in a way that will ameliorate the pig for many credulous Republicans in the Senate and House. If you listen closely to some of those who are “open” to working with the bill, they are not actually concerned about the egregious systemic problems with the bill (legalization first, hamstringing future enforcement, wage controls, hamstringing states, inviting in those already deported); they are concerned that those problems will prove fatal in the House. Hence, they are looking to craft a bill “that can pass the House.”
National Review’s Jonathan Strong aptly explains Rubio’s latest move to the right like this: “Rubio has made a practice of making such comments whenever the critics of the bill seem to be gaining momentum.” Indeed, we are gaining momentum because we are exposing the truth and actually delving into the philosophical issues of the broader immigration debate instead of repeating the vacuous platitudes that have driven this debate for far too long.
There is no excuse for anyone to support cloture next week. We’ll all be watching.