Our View: Red flags, already

Posted: February 5, 2013

Well, that didn’t last long. Exactly one week after the Gang of Eight (or at least five members thereof) issued its declaration of principles for immigration reform, fissures in this delicate coalition have already begun to appear.

First, there’s an inherent flaw — in truth, a trap for Republicans eager to get something down on this contentious issue (Marco Rubio, beware) — in this piece of legislation that is supposed to address enforcement issues first, then legalization. True, as columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote last week, technically no illegal immigrant can, under this measure, apply for a green card until the border is officially declared secure.

Well, not quite. From the moment this legislation is signed, something called “probationary” legal status kicks in, meaning that illegals can, as they say, come out of the shadows and live and work openly. And that, more than anything we suspect, is what they want.

We wonder what it would take for, say, Mr. Rubio to throw down this gauntlet: “Enforcement and border security, first . . . before any talk of legalization, probationary or otherwise.”

Republican wariness on such matters could brand the GOP as obstructionist, but in truth, as The Wall Street Journal’s Kim Strassel wrote Friday, the true dispensers of poison pills dominate the Democratic firmament: Big Labor.

The prominent labor unions play both ends against the middle on immigration — they welcome the so-called “path to citizenship,” but abhor the notion of a market-driven guest-worker program. For Richard Trumka and the boys, it’s all about power, and the chance to poach freshly minted citizens for the “union label.” How they act may well indicate how the reform process is faring.