Our View: ‘Stupid Party’? — GOP pushes immigration reform

Posted: February 1, 2014

Before labeling it “The Stupid Party,” we at least owe the GOP the courtesy of examining its new immigration-reform “standards,” and the reasons why party pooh-bahs decided to advance them now, before November’s midterm elections.

The consensus among the commentariat is that the House Republican leadership is poised to extend legalization — as opposed to outright citizenship — to millions of illegal immigrants contingent on the establishment and maintenance of border security. Whether anything short of a definitive “path to citizenship” will pass muster with the Democratic majority in the Senate remains to be seen.

But this consensus is not necessarily reflective of the language found in the “standards,” which Byron York of The Examiner has termed “boilerplate, mostly indistinguishable from the Senate Gang of Eight ‘framework’ that (Speaker John) Boehner and other House Republicans rejected” seven years ago when such matters burned white-hot.

True enough, the “standards” encompass a laundry list of familiar items — i.e., employment verification (or E-verify) and entry-exit visa systems, provisions for guest workers, special consideration of young immigrants, and routine requirements and expectations for illegals desirous of a way “out of the shadows”: rigorous background checks, payment of fines and back taxes, a measured proficiency in English and American civics, and the wherewithal “to support themselves and their families (without access to public benefits).”

Is there anything new and different? This caveat, perhaps: “None of this can happen before specific enforcement triggers have been implemented to fulfill our promise to the American people that from here on, our immigration laws will indeed be enforced.”

The critical question: To what extent are Republicans serious — really serious — about enforcing this caveat? And what, specifically, are those “special enforcement triggers”?

Already one senses a retreat from even these principles. No less a Republican heavyweight than Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan has suggested that maybe, just maybe, legal status can be granted while the border is being secured. Small wonder, we say, that the likes of paleo-con columnist Pat Buchanan has charged the Republican leadership with “capitulation,” of raising “the white flag of surrender.”

Why would they do this? And why now?