On Immigration, House GOP Setting Up Circular Firing Squad

by Mark Krikorian

As pointed out by NRO’s editors, plus Peter Kirsanow and Quin Hillyer (not to mention the editor of that other conservative magazine), for the House GOP to embark on a big amnesty/increased-immigration push now, when Obama is on the run, would be an act of political stupidity almost without parallel. Quin writes of Boehner and company: “And do they not hear, again and again, from conservative grassroots activists that this is not just another issue for them, but one they feel passionate about — and passionately against the positions being pushed by the House leadership?”

Along those lines, this from an e-mail correspondent struck me:

To me, the House immigration effort proceeding is also, somehow, not to be over-dramatic, but . . . really, the end of the Republican party as we at least hoped it to be (not just a threat). It feels like the final straw. I feel that. I have heard grassroots people saying it. But I wonder if you all sense this too.

“Not just another issue.” “The final straw.” Passage of amnesty could be a recipe for the kind of anti-establishment political surge we’ve seen in Europe. And it would be caused by the same elite contempt for their countrymen that has long shaped immigration policy both here and in Europe.

And it’s all so pointless. I outline in the current issue of NR an approach that would be both sound policy and good politics: Lay out the specific enforcement objectives that are required, which would be primarily focused on preventing new illegal settlement. Then, when they survive the lawfare waged against them by ACLU/Chamber of Commerce and are up and running, offer a deal: a relatively simple amnesty for established, non-violent illegals (offering green cards and their track to citizenship, not a Saudi-style second-class status) in exchange for a more moderate level of future legal immigration. A House plan that included not gauzy “principles” but specific deliverables regarding enforcement could not be painted as moving the goalposts in order to avoid ever getting to the amnesty, as some in the open-borders crowd (including Obama) suggest. And while the achievement of those enforcement objectives would result in some attrition of the illegal population, plenty would remain to ensure that amnesty would remain on the political agenda and not disappear, as the lefties fear. The deal of amnesty for immigration cuts would have the added advantage of putting daylight between the GOP and the crony capitalists of the Chamber of Commerce and the other corporate interests seeking to undermine Americans’ earnings.

“Enforcement first” isn’t just a slogan — it’s the only way forward if the Republican party is to avoid disaster.

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