You’ve got to hand it to Orrin Hatch. Having been in the Senate since 1977, he knows how the game is played. Here he is in a debate last year when he was fighting for his political life against conservative challenger Dan Liljenquist:
Well, I don’t disagree with some of the things that Dan’s saying here. There’s no use kidding, we’re an nation of immigrants, but immigrants who follow the law. He’s right, we won’t be able to solve these problems until we secure the borders, and we have to do that. Every other large nation in the world knows how to secure their borders, why can’t we secure ours? And second, we can no longer grant amnesty. I fought against the 1986 Simpson-Mazzoli bill because they granted amnesty to 3 million people. They should have to get in line like anybody else if they want to come into this country and do it legally.
Well, there’s a big immigration bill in the Senate right now that basically only gets a promise from the Obama administration to enforce the immigration laws in exchange for an immediate amnesty. How did Orrin Hatch vote on that bill in committee? He voted for it, in exchange for loosening up more on H-1B visas. He had explained to the L.A. Times, “I’m naturally inclined to support this bill.” Of course, he didn’t tell Utah Republicans about his natural inclination toward amnesty without meaningful enforcement a year or so ago.
This dynamic is why, although I agree with Fred Bauer that the scandals should heighten our skepticism of a bill that is yet another expression of faith in the administrative state, I think the scandals help the legislation. The establishment and the interest groups want this bill to pass and to the extent they can do their work without any noticing — so little outside pressure can be brought to bear — they benefit.
In the meantime, way to play the rubes, Senator Hatch, way to play the rubes.