This fight — over immigration and a government shutdown — is far from over. Republicans right now are more upbeat than Democrats because it’s the latter who have felt it necessary to switch their votes. Having voted on Friday against a bill to keep the government open and fund the children’s health-insurance program for six years, they voted for a similar bill on Monday. The partial shutdown of the federal government ended.
But look again. The bill they supported will keep the government fully open for only three weeks. If the Democrats do not get the immigration deal they want, they reserve the right to shut down the government again — and next time they will not have the children’s health-insurance program as an incentive to vote to keep it open, since it is off the table for six years.
Conservatives should want a balanced deal: one that grants an amnesty for illegal immigrants who came here as minors, yes, but also steps up enforcement of the immigration laws (ideally by making it mandatory for employers to check the legal status of new hires) and changes the rules of chain migration to keep the affected illegal immigrants from being able to create a new influx of immigrants. The obstacles to this deal are the polling that shows strong support for the amnesty, and the related willingness of many Republicans to approve an amnesty with few or no conditions.
Republicans in the White House and the Congress ought to make it clear that they will not accept a deal that encourages illegal immigration or raises immigration levels — and will not accede to an unacceptable deal for fear of a Democratic shutdown in a few weeks.
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