“What’s surprising is the breadth of the concessions that produced the compromise. The four Democrats … yielded on a guest worker program, which Democrats usually oppose. They accepted a ‘trigger,’ based on quantifiable improvements in border security, to clear the path to citizenship. They yielded on federal benefits, Obamacare included, which the new residents won’t get. And they agreed to increase the number of highly skilled and educated workers given green cards. All that, plus billions more to enhance border security.”Deal Breaker
By Fred Barnes
February 4, 2013
The president wants more. He would tilt the deal in a Democratic direction by putting the 11 million illegal immigrants in this country instantly on a path to American citizenship. Border security? That comes later (if at all). If Obama prevails, the compromise will be shattered and odds on passage of immigration reform reduced to near zero.
That outcome, by the way, would please the zealous bloc of conservatives whose battle cry is “Keep Illegal Immigrants Illegal”—in other words, maintain the unstable status quo, or worse. And it would squander a rare opportunity to break the impasse on immigration with a deal that treats illegals fairly and decently and, better still, is good for America.
The Senate agreement is a true compromise. Both sides gave up a lot, and, should it pass in some form or other, neither will be able to claim exclusive victory. It’s win-win, which is what a compromise is supposed to be.
The eight senators last week issued a set of principles for rewriting immigration laws, and a bill is expected in March. The aim is to pass the legislation by the August recess. The House would take up the immigration issue in the fall.
The compromise would do three important things. First, illegal immigrants would be given legal status immediately. They wouldn’t be eligible for federal benefits, but they wouldn’t be deported either. Second, they would gain green cards and be allowed to apply for citizenship in 8 to 12 years—after a special commission that includes state and local officials has certified America’s southern border as secure. And third, the newly legalized would go to the end of the immigration line (shortened by cleaning out its backlog).
It’s a long and tedious process. But the legislation won’t be drafted by a few senators in secret meetings, then whisked directly to the floor. That’s the way Senate majority leader Harry Reid normally operates. This time, so-called regular order will be followed—hearings, mark-ups, and debates, a Senate-House conference, a bill on the president’s desk.
What’s surprising is the breadth of the concessions that produced the compromise. The four Democrats—Bob Menendez (New Jersey), Michael Bennet (Colorado), Richard Durbin (Illinois), and Charles Schumer (New York)—yielded on a guest worker program, which Democrats usually oppose. They accepted a “trigger,” based on quantifiable improvements in border security, to clear the path to citizenship. They yielded on federal benefits, Obamacare included, which the new residents won’t get. And they agreed to increase the number of highly skilled and educated workers given green cards. All that, plus billions more to enhance border security.
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