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June 20, 2013 9:49 AM Big Moment in the Senate on Immigration?

By Ed Kilgore

It’s only one front in the complex battle over immigration reform, but it’s the one that matters most at the moment: it looks like the Gang of Eight (and the largely Democratic coalition of senators supporting them) are going to announce a new border enforcement “compromise” that will be attributed to Republicans Bob Corker and John Hoeven. It basically involves massive new spending on border control agents and fence-building that would occur before newly legalized immigrants can get on the famed “path to citizenship.” But it doesn’t embrace a “hard trigger” of border enforcement netrics, as conservative typically want, and also doesn’t hold up the initial legalization of undocumented immigrants, as most Senate Republicans voted for just last week in the Grassley Amendment.

In effect, this is pretty much the Gang of Eight’s border enforcement provisions with congressionally prescribed steps for improving enforcement (not just leaving it up to DHS) and a very large bag of money (and you can probably thank CBO’s positive report yesterday on the fiscal impact of immigration reform for making that feasible).

It seems from Greg Sargent’s report on the deal this morning that immigration reform advocates are already on board with this compromise, albeit not with any enthusiasm. The two questions now are (1) how many Senate Republicans now accept the deal, and are any of them named John Cornyn? and (2) how do House Republicans react?

I’m guessing Cornyn is on board or this deal wouldn’t be getting the anticipatory hype rolling across Washington right now. But it’s hard to imagine that a compromise without hard triggers is going to fly in the House, where a majority of Republicans may well oppose having any bill at all.

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.

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