On Wednesday, House Republicans will finally confront leadership on the issue of immigration. In reality, the issue is not too complicated.
There is an enormous bifurcation between the public and the political class over the issue of amnesty. Following passage of the amnesty bill in the Senate, the political class in both parties thinks this is the most pressing issue for the House to consider before the August recess. Senate GOP leadership is working overtime to beg House members to send something over to conference. The public, on the other hand, couldn’t care less about the issue, and in fact, is against amnesty. Moreover, they are distracted with the scandals, Egypt in turmoil, and summer vacations. As such, there is no reason the House should take up immigration legislation before August.
Nonetheless, the forces at be that have the ear of GOP leadership are working indefatigably to pass some form of amnesty. To that end, conservatives have set up a conference with leadership and all GOP House members on Wednesday. Here are the following concerns conservatives must address with leadership:
- A shell game for conference committee: The biggest concern of conservatives is that leadership will take any bill, even a good enforcement bill, and go to conference with the Senate. We all know that this will not end well. Leadership must commit to not conferencing any enforcement bill with the Senate as a means of dropping in amnesty provisions behind closed doors. If they decline to make that commitment, conservatives must vote down any bill, even a good one, and take down the rule to consider the bill.
- Citizenship is a red herring: There is concern that some Republicans will focus too much on citizenship, and ultimately agree to an amnesty bill that either delays or eliminates the path to citizenship. The main concern with the Senate bill is not the path to citizenship; it is the path to any legal status before implementation of enforcement. Once the legal status is granted, there is no way to permanently hold off citizenship. It’s just not going to happen. That’s why any bill which grants legal status before enforcement is worthless. Leadership might have committed to rejecting the Senate bill, but they are still working on an alternative that officially pushes off the path to citizenship for a few years, an outcome that will never come to fruition.
- Incremental amnesty: While it is unlikely the House will pass comprehensive amnesty, there is a major concern that they will pass incremental amnesty. The two biggest threats are the DREAM Act amnesty and legal status for Agriculture workers. Both of these groups are relatively young and poor, and their legalization would create a profound public charge. Unfortunately, many Republicans have expressed their support for these two ideas, particularly the Dream Act. An agriculture amnesty bill already passed out of committee, with only 6 Republicans voting to strip out the amnesty. Conservatives must remind the conference that even those who are sympathetic to passing these amnesties must not embark on this endeavor before Obama begins implementing the laws on the books and until we eliminate welfare incentives and birthright citizenship.
Conservatives need to unite behind one cogent message – no legal status for anyone here illegally unless Obama begins enforcing the laws on the books and until the magnets are eliminated. They must also agree to vote down any immigration bill that is brought to the floor unless there is an iron-clad agreement from leadership not to go to conference with the Senate. If they want to deal with immigration, they should do so in the September budget battle and attach conditions to funding for the DHS.
Then we can get back to dealing with the things that people outside of DC are actually concerned with; namely, Obamacare and a rogue administration.