All things equal, when preparing to compromise on a policy issue, it is better for conservatives to first work together to craft a statement of principles, conditions, and red lines before signing onto a plan enthusiastically backed by the left. That is why it is so disconcerting that the statement of “conservative principles” on the issue of immigration was first crafted with Chuck Schumer.
When speaking with conservative figures in the blogosphere and on talk radio, Senator Marco Rubio has rightfully pointed out that he desired to get Democrats on record as supporting major reforms. He wrote in these pages earlier this week that conservatives won important concessions from Democrats in that they have agreed to make enforcement a precondition to any legalization.
We’ve already noted that the legal status for illegal immigrants would be granted immediately and unconditionally upon passage of the bill. Once they obtain that status, it will be very difficult to stop the momentum of citizenship for enforcement benchmarks, which were left very ambiguous in their draft proposal. However, Chuck Schumer has now ensured the public that there is no room for dispute. He said the following regarding the preconditions in a press conference on Thursday:
"We're not using border security as an excuse or a block to the path to citizenship. We just want to make sure -- and this is very important both substantively and politically -- that there is a secure border, and we're going to work for that," he said during a press conference on Capitol Hill. "[The Gang of Eight] wants to make sure the border is secure, but not to use it as a barrier to prevent the 11 million from eventually gaining a path to citizenship."
There you have it – from the horse’s mouth. Democrats don’t believe in their minds that they made any concession. So the entire rationale for a bipartisan gang is out the window.
Now it’s time for Rubio and other conservatives to sit down and have a bicameral conservative working group laying out real principles with uninfringeable red lines and preconditions. As Charles Krauthammer pointed out yesterday, it is not enough to give lip service to the border and discuss “high-tech” security measures. We’ve tried them, and they failed. The only thing that has worked in the past was a plain old border fence that was constructed in the San Diego area in the ‘90s. A plain, dumb piece of wood and metal is not subject to executive discretion like people and drones will inevitably be once the sinister characters in the bureaucracies choose not to enforce the law. (Hey, what ever happened to McCain's election mantra of "build the dang fence already?")
Aside for additional workplace enforcement and a visa tracking system, here are some other concessions we need to get in order to dry up the magnet of future waves of illegal migration:
- Anchor Babies: At present, our legal system operates under the false notion that the 14th Amendment guarantees citizenship for any child born here from someone who entered illegally. This has created the allure of anchor babies, and serves as a huge magnet for illegal immigration. While illegal immigrants are precluded from receiving most welfare benefits, many of them enjoy programs on behalf of their American-born children. Obviously, any anchor baby already born here is a legal citizen, but we need to fix this going forward. It will be challenged in the courts, but we have a strong case to make that the 14th Amendment never included children of illegals.
- Interior Enforcement: At present, we have a perverse reality in which states and localities that uphold federal immigration laws are sued by the federal government, while states and localities that thwart the immigration laws through “sanctuary city” policies are not punished. Any enforcement legislation must unambiguously extend states the power to uphold federal immigration laws. We need the confidence that in the event that the current or future administrations fail to uphold the law, states will have the power to take up the prerogative.
- Benefits: Close the loophole that allows illegals to receive the Additional Child Tax Credit with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
In other words, we need 'comprehensive' enforcement first.
Only if and when most or all of the aforementioned enforcement provisions are in place and cleared by the courts, will it make sense to discuss any ideas of legalization for those already here from the previous wave of lawlessness.
It’s time to learn our lesson. We must not let the foxes guard the henhouse.
Cross-posted from The Madison Project