Jeb Bush generated quite a bit of publicity for his new book yesterday by suggesting that amnestied illegal immigrants should not be eligible for citizenship. Instead, he’s suggesting they be given some kind of permanent status that would provide them work cards, Social Security numbers, driver’s licenses, and the right to travel abroad and return, but not allow for eventual naturalization — in effect, a kind of permanent guestworker program or a green-card-lite, rather than an actual green card. This is consistent with suggestions from other pro-amnesty Republicans, including Senator Rubio and a group of House members working up an amnesty deal.
Unfortunately, it’s a trick.
Jeb Bush, as you would imagine, has long been in favor of citizenship for illegal aliens. This “evolution” in his thinking is a tactic to offer a “compromise” version of amnesty that is somehow less distasteful to Republican lawmakers, as a way of duping them into voting for it, or giving them cover to dupe their constituents into thinking it’s not really an amnesty. And it’s being offered as an option opposed by the Left, and the Left is playing its role, calling the move a “blunder of huge proportions” and the like.
This enables the organ of the pro-amnesty movement to label it “a middle-ground option” when it is nothing of the kind. (That was also the point of last month’s “leaking” of Obama’s immigration bill.) Once the illegal population is legalized, the game is over — the amnesty will obviously never be revoked, and the Democrats will then launch a campaign against Republicans accusing them (correctly) of imposing on helpless Latinos a Jim Crow–style system of second-class status, something more appropriate to Saudi Arabia. If they go this way, the GOP candidate in 2016 will look back fondly on Romney’s 27 percent of the Hispanic vote — and he’ll have sabotaged his own base as well, resulting in an even further drop in blue-collar white turnout and Republican share.
When I say this whole debate over a “compromise” form of amnesty is kabuki, scripted out months ago by the open-borders crowd, I don’t mean that metaphorically. The pre-planned nature of this struck me at the House Judiciary Committee hearing a few weeks ago. San Antonio mayor Julian Castro (whose part-time job consists solely of chairing city-council meetings, by the way) insisted under questioning that a path to citizenship is the only option that Congress should consider, and was itself a “compromise” between open borders and mass deportation.
But then, his handler, Angela Kelley, head of immigration matters at the Center for American Progress and a key White House proxy on the issue, leaned forward and whispered in Castro’s ear. After that, he changed his tune slightly, saying a path to citizenship was the best outcome but that a lesser status might be acceptable. It wouldn’t surprise me me if Angela Kelley and White House immigration coordinator Cecilia Muñoz have actually done conference calls with staff for Rubio and Bush gaming out this strategy.
The question before us is not how illegal immigrants should be legalized, but whether they should be amnestied at all. And until we have a real enforcement infrastructure in place, the answer has to be “no.”