Political Animal


April 18, 2013 3:20 PM Anti-Immigration Reform Foxholes

By Ed Kilgore

Marco Rubio’s participation in the Gang of Eight’s immigration reform proposal is significant because he’s a major conservative hero who has abandoned two of the foxholes his ideological colleagues long occupied: (1) No movement towards legalization until border enforcement is accomplished; and (2) Legalization confined to “permanent residency” or “Guest Worker” status, not actually citizenship. He’s done so in part by helping design a “path to citizenship” regimen in which steps towards broad-based citizenship access is “triggered” by accomplishment of various border enforcement “benchmarks.”

But the counter-argument we may soon hear constantly from conservatives, and that will place a lot of pressure on Rubio, is one articulated today by long-time comprehensive reform foe Mickey Kaus at the Daily Caller:

Legalized “provisionals” have no reason to pressure the government into speedy enforcement (the way they would in a real Enforcement First scheme). But there is a big incentive for immigrant advocates to sue and hold up enforcement until 2023, ten years out, when the whistle blows and they win.
This is all ignoring the biggest factor the law’s language doesn’t discuss-which is that once the bill passes and 11 million illegals are legalized, politicians will start competing for the Latino vote by shortening the 10 year path to a green card-to 8 years, or 6 years, and well, why should it matter if the E-Verify system isn’t anywhere close to universal and an exit-Visa system is only in place at a couple of airports?

Kaus seems to be suggesting that the battle to thwart some final destination of citizenship in the bill should give way to an effort to keep undocumented workers illegal until enforcement is improved, and/or to build in hard, unavoidable enforcement “triggers” before those holding green cards have any hope of moving on to citizenship.

It’s not as clean a fight as simply opposing “amnesty,” but it has the benefit of shifting the debate to the details of legislation in a way that tempts Republicans to have it both ways: Hey, I’m for a “path to citizenship,” but only under “certain conditions.” It’s the sort of argument that could unravel the fragile bipartisan coalition the Gang of Eight is trying to assemble while giving House Republicans a new foxhole to occupy.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on April 18, 2013 4:28 PM:

    "Hey, Chica, I WANT to marry you!

    Now, all you gotta do, is get your papers in order, muzzle your mother, tell your father to take a long walk off a short pier, give your sister a V*lium, tell you brother never to get his undies in a knot around me, tell your aunt and uncle to do something anatomically impossible, inform you grandparents that what we do is none of their feckin' business, get a nose job, get a boob-job, get rid of those crows-feet around your eyes, lose weight, agree to vote the way I tell ya, and never, ever, talk back to me.

    Once all that's done, the ring's on your finger, the date is set, and...
    Oh yeah, about the bank account - that'll be in MY name, ok? And, you can't take insurance out on me, but I can on you. Ooops, and one more thing - NO KIDS!

    Do all that, and I'll be the man you want me to be, and we'll spend the rest of our lives together!
    Except of course, "Boy's Nights" out for bowling, day's off for golf, my best-bud's can come over to drink beer and watch games while you cook and clean, and, YOU sleep on the couch if we ever have an argument.

  • paul on April 18, 2013 4:29 PM:

    Note the disgust at the idea that immigrants, documented or otherwise, might eventually become citizens. And vote.

  • LaFollette Progressive on April 18, 2013 4:33 PM:

    Mickey Kaus is a flake's flake. A buffoon's buffoon. Whereas the fox knows many things and the hedgehog knows one thing very well, he gives every indication that he knows nothing at all. He has neither wit, nor wisdom, nor substance, nor style, nor even the capacity to write stupid, self-indulgent crap at a rapid enough clip to be popular with people who enjoy reading stupid, self-indulgent crap. His blog was like listening to a grown man with no friends gossiping with himself.

    I have never in all of my travels on earth and cyberspace encountered a single living soul who thinks he has a single useful thing to say on a single subject.

    Even taking into consideration the fact that Slate has always been a haven for a certain number of writers that no one either likes nor understands why anyone pays them to write, his success at drawing a paycheck from Slate for many years was utterly mystifying.

    Don't give this long-forgotten has-been/never-was the attention he craves. Don't even bother arguing with his idiotic pronouncements on immigration policy. These days he's no more influential than my dog, and much yappier. Just close the door and let him yap in well-deserved obscurity.

  • thebewilderness on April 18, 2013 7:56 PM:

    The bill very nearly declares martial law along the border. It is bizarre language, and quite likely unconstitutional.