Senate Repubicans met today and it appears that the majority of them are willing to sign on to a White House-Kennedy “comprehensive” reform. Some have convinced themselves that the measure represents a good trade, i.e. amnesty for 12 million (which they privately acknowledge is the case) in exchange for beefed -up enforcement including a worker-verification system (assuming government can effectively design one with Democrats refusing to agree to data-sharing among relevant agencies), and an end to chain migration at some point in the future, i.e. when the big backlog on extended family members waiting for green cards is cleared up.
Faith-based immigration reform! The “good trade” case is easier to make when the huge net costs of legalization are simply ignored. The fact that much of the improvements they seek could be achieved by enforcing current laws is also being ignored.
The political calculation by conservative senators appears to be that the White House was going to cut a deal with Ted Kennedy with or without them and moderate senators would provide enough votes to pass any such bill. In the absence of vociferous opposition by conservatives, only about a dozen or so GOP senators are likely to oppose the grand “comprehensive” compromise.
My previous optimism about the Senate’s inability to come up with a consensus plan that could win broad bipartisan approval obviously underestimated Republican senators’ capacity for self-delusion.