Distrust and Then Verify
Rushing through immigration reform risks repeating the mistakes of the past.

Members of the Senate "Gang of Eight," January 28, 2013


John Fund

All the signs are that Democrats want to load any immigration bill with provisions that pay off special interest groups but weaken the overall strength of the bill. Just recently, every Senate Democrat, along with two Republicans, voted against an amendment that would have barred amnestied illegals from getting federally subsidized Obamacare.

Senator Rubio has insisted that security-enforcement triggers will have to be included in the bill and met before any illegal aliens can apply for a green card that puts them on a path to citizenship. But Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano has already rejected that notion.


And last month, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities announced that they had released several hundred detainees in response to sequester budget cuts. With a straight face, the White House’s Jay Carney claimed, “This was a decision made entirely by career officials at ICE, without any input from the White House, as a result of fiscal uncertainty.” Border arrests are at a 40-year low, and yet the Obama administration wants us to believe there are no budget savings to be had without emptying jail cells.

The administration appears at times to be eager to provoke Senate Republicans into walking away from immigration negotiations. Maybe that’s because Team Obama’s backup plan may be that if they can’t sucker enough Republicans into backing a bad bill, they can sabotage the final product, see it collapse, and then have a political cudgel to bash Republicans as both insensitive to Hispanics and dismissive of their conservative base. Then, the theory goes, Democrats could win back control of the House in the 2014 elections and pass an immigration bill of their own without messy compromises.

I’m not quite that cynical yet, but the way liberals — and some Republicans — have been acting, the old Ronald Reagan admonition might be changed to “distrust and then verify” when it comes to how voters ought to evaluate the ongoing immigration negotiations. 

 — John Fund is national-affairs columnist for NRO.