Asked to explain the immigration reform plan that a group of eight bipartisan senators will unveil today, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told ABC News‘ Sunday Martha Raddatz, “It’s not that much different from what we tried to do in 2007.”
And he’s right, its not. Both plans grant immediate legalization to all non-criminal illegal immigrants in the country today. Both plans grant citizenship to illegal immigrants in the country today after they jump through a series of hoops. Both plans promise a new employment verification system. Both plans promise more border control spending. Both plans promise to track those immigrants who overstay their visas. Both plans grant expedited citizenship for those who came to the United States before they were 16. And both plans create a temporary guest worker program.
There are a couple new wrinkle though. The new plan grants all agricultural workers an expedited path to citizenship similar to the one that is offered to those who came to the United States before they were 16. It also grants a path to citizenship to those future temporary guest workers who want to stay. It denies federal benefits to all legalized immigrants until they become citizens. And it creates a “Southwest border” commission of “governors, attorneys general, and community leaders” that must certify the border is secure before some immigrants can become citizens.
All of these changes make the new plan much much worse for Republicans politically. Just take the border commission. Who do you think is most likely to say the border is already secure enough to grant citizenship to those legalized by this plan? That’s right, Democrats. And who do you think is least likely to say the border is secure? That’s right, Republicans. Now guess which party will get blamed, and suffer politically, when the border is not declared “secure” regardless of the facts on the ground? Yup, Republicans. And while Republicans refuse to sign off on border security, legalized immigrants will be denied access to Obamacare subsidies or Medicaid expansion. Which party do you think they will blame for denying them health care?
The new Senate immigration plan not only grants expedited citizenship to a brand new set of illegal immigrants (agricultural workers) but it creates a brand new infinite amnesty by creating a path to citizenship for “temporary” guest workers as well. And it accomplishes all this while making it even more clear that Republicans are the mean bad guys of border enforcement.
What could go wrong?
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