The Corner

Did Lindsey Graham Just Kill the Immigration Bill?

I’ve been watching the Goldman circus, but the Senate Judiciary Committee is also having hearings, and during testimony from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) may have effectively put the kibosh on support for any immigration reform bill before “the borders are secured” — no sooner than 2012:

Sen. Lindsey Graham, the sole Republican who was working on a bill to legalize illegal immigrants, in effect put the bill on the shelf on Tuesday, saying a debate now would destroy any prospects for passage and saying the issue needs to wait until 2012.

The remarks likely signal the end of any serious chance for broad immigration legislation to pass this year, since Mr. Graham, South Carolina Republican, was the best hope for a partnership with President Obama and Democrats who want to write a bill.

“It is impossible for me and any other serious Democrat to get this body to move forward until we prove to the American people we can secure our borders,” Mr. Graham told Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who was testifying at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

“I believe we can do it by 2012 if we’re smart,” he said.

[. . .]

Mr. Graham has been working with Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, to write a bill, but said any effort to bring it up now would so anger Americans that it would kill any chance of getting the issue passed this year and in the near future.

“If immigration comes up this year, it’s absolutely devastating to the future of this issue,” he said.

UPDATE: A number of readers have noted Senator Graham’s intriguing turn of phrase, “It is impossible for me and any other serious Democrat. . .” Yes, I did notice this. But I figured Graham already has enough problems without me calling him on his Freudian slip (?).

UPDATE II: More strong words from Sen. Graham:

Graham, the only Republican negotiating with Democrats to craft an immigration reform bill, said during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing he would bet everything he owns that a bill would “crash and burn” if it was brought up in the near future and would be “absolutely devastating” to the reform movement.

The comments mark the strongest words yet from Graham about the prospects of advancing a reform bill he has been working on with Sen. Charles Schumer D-N.Y.

“To the Hispanic community – if you bring a bill up now, it’s going to go down,” Graham said after the hearing. “You won’t get 40 votes because nobody can go back home and justify that the system is fixed when we know it’s not.”

Daniel FosterDaniel Foster is a former news editor of National Review Online.

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