House Republican leaders have announced a set of "standards" for immigration reform to be adopted by the Republican members of Congress at their "retreat." That meeting is aptly named, for all Republicans have done recently is retreat.
But even a retreat is better than surrender, and all the signs point to a surrender on the near horizon.
Everyone in Washington, D.C., understands that the "standards" announced by Boehner are only a rhetorical cover for their plan to push amnesty legislation by pretending to do the opposite.
We have been here before. No one is being fooled. Any Republican congressman who talks about the new "standards" as an alternative to the Senate amnesty bill will likely get a headache from overworking his wink-wink muscles.
The new drill is remarkably – some would say eerily—similar to the rollout last January of the US Senate "Gang of Eight" amnesty bill. With great fanfare Schumer and Rubio unveiled the set of "principles" that would guide their negotiations on drafting the legislation. When the details of the Senate bill were made public months later, you could fly a Boeing 757 through the gap between the avowed principles and the language of the legislation.
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That was standard operating procedure for beltway negotiations. Lawmakers seldom let principles stand in the way of making a deal after they have invested heavily in the effort.
So, now in place of the Senate's "principles," which yielded a bill no Republican in the House would support, we have a set of House Republican "standards" – designed to produce a series of "small" immigration bills Republicans can support enthusiastically. Most likely, some of those bills will have merit and would be worthy of support in a different world where they had any chance of being enacted into law. But that is not going to happen.
The problem is, those "small immigration bills," each supposedly attacking some specific problem in our immigration system such as the conspicuous lack of real border security, will be only a pretext, a vehicle for the planned compromise and sell-out in negotiations with the Senate.
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There are three immense obstacles to genuine immigration reform, and none of them are addressed by this new adventure into "bipartisan compromise." First, there is no agreement on the problems in our "broken immigration system" these bills are supposedly "fixing." Open-borders lobbyists identify the problems needing "fixing" very differently than advocates for immigration enforcement. For example, open-borders lobbyists never offer to negotiate a solution to the serious problem of "anchor babies," children born to illegal aliens, tourists, business travelers and foreign students who are given automatic citizenship.
Secondly, the language on key problems like border security that will be adopted in any compromise bill very predictably will be inadequate and filled with loopholes and waivers. Loosely written enforcement provisions would be impossible to enforce even under a Republican president. Yes, strong, compelling language is always possible, but Democrats will never allow it to be included.
The nasty truth is that Republican leaders in Congress have already conceded defeat. How? When Republicans announce that they are committed to reaching a compromise on immigration, then they have surrendered all their bargaining chips. That is the clear signal that they are not serious about holding out for real border security and other necessary safeguards. Democrats know they can roll the Republicans on every issue that really matters because the Republicans are desperate.
But a third problem is even a bigger obstacle to an honest and enforceable compromise on immigration. That bigger problem is named President Barack Obama.
Conservatives everywhere recognize that it is beyond foolishness to trust President Obama to actually implement a new immigration law passed by Congress. He has aptly demonstrated that he will enforce laws he likes and ignore ones he does not like. If he will do that with Obamacare, a bill Democrats wrote and enacted without a single Republican vote, why in the world would anyone think he will shrink from abusing his administrative powers in implementing a bill that contains a few provisions written by Republicans?
Indeed, one of the "standards" to be adopted as guidance for the negotiations openly acknowledges this problem with Obama's credibility. It says this pattern of executive arrogance must be abandoned. That is hilarious. Republicans promise to take steps to stop Obama from misconstruing laws and changing them administratively. Does anyone know how to do that short of impeachment?
There is a virtually universal chorus of conservatives now warning the Republican leadership against this impending deal. It is not only foolish; it is dishonest to the point of being traitorous.
In policy terms, the rank hypocrisy and dishonesty in this "Republican strategy" boggle the mind. In political terms, it is beyond calamitous. We can see why Democrats are delighted by this turn of events. It is a Republican stampede of unparalleled stupidity.
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