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Republican leadership can’t even convince Ross Douthat on immigration

Republican leadership can’t even convince Ross Douthat on immigration

Consider it a wake up call to the not-base when Douthat sides with the base.

Ross Douthat, a columnist for the NY Times, is not someone people usually refer to as part of the Republican “base.”

Stephen Colbert describes him as the “conservative columnist at the NY Times, which also qualifies him to be the liberal columnist for the NY Post.”

But he’s with the base when it comes to Republican immigration “principles” released on Friday:

THE debate over immigration reform, rekindled last week by House Republican leaders, bears a superficial resemblance to last fall’s debate over the government shutdown.

Again, you have establishment Republicans transparently eager to cut a deal with the White House and a populist wing that doesn’t want to let them do it. Again, you have Republican business groups and donors wringing their hands over the intransigence of the base, while talk-radio hosts and right-wing bloggers warn against an imminent inside-the-Beltway sellout. Again, you have a bill that could pass the House tomorrow — but only if John Boehner was willing to live with having mostly Democrats voting for it.

Except there’s one big difference: This time, the populists are right.

They’re right about the policy, which remains a mess in every new compromise that’s floated — offering “solutions” that are unlikely to be permanent, enforcement provisions that probably won’t take effect, and favoring special interests, right and left, over the interests of the citizenry at large.

Among the many problems, any form of legalization prior to enforcement is folly. And therein lies the problem. Obama will not sign a meaningful “enforcement first” bill, so either Republicans repeat the mistakes of the past, or the “principles” go nowhere while disrupting Republicans focus for 2014.

Greg Sargent of WaPo, reliable conduit of Democratic thinking, notes that Republicans don’t trust Obama to enforce the law, so will impose preconditions that will be unacceptable to Obama:

Paul Ryan’s interview on ABC yesterday offers a clue on how GOP leaders will try to navigate around these objections. And in the process it neatly illustrates the central unknowns about House Republican thinking on the issue, the resolution of which will decide whether reform happens or dies. Here’s the key quote:

“Here’s the issue that all Republicans agree on — we don’t trust the president to enforce the law. So if you actually look at the standards that the Republican leadership put out, which is security first, first we have to secure the border, have interior enforcement, which is a worker verification system, a visa tracking program. Those things have to be in law, in practice and independently verified before the rest of the law can occur. So it’s a security force first, non-amnesty approach.”

Asked if Republicans could embrace reform Obama could sign, Ryan said: “That is clearly in doubt. It depends on whether they’re willing to actually secure the border.”

* * *

Either Ryan knows he must say this to get mainstream conservatives to even listen to him about immigration — it’s a way to reassure them of his best intentions even as GOP leaders seriously grapple with how to get to some form of legalization. (Byron York floats a version of this theory here.) Or, if Republicans decide they can’t get to that point, it will become the excuse for killing reform: Obama can’t be trusted to enforce the law – executive orders Obamacare Benghazi etc. etc. — so we can’t embrace any form of legalization, until all of our security metrics are met.

Which gets back to the question the core problem — Republicans never can jump high enough on immigration amnesty to satisfy Democrats without a complete capitulation.

So why bother now of all times?


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Here’s what I’d like to hear the GOP “leaders” propose: A moratorium on any discussion on what to do about illegal aliens with an expulsion of them all at the end–take it out of the aid money given to their corrupt governments); a thorough closing of our borders; a rejection of new immigrants from the Americas south of our border (this country owes Central and South Americans nothing; providing aid does not mean the wholesale importation of their citizenry, no matter how good their motives); an exclusion of people whose values reject assimilation into our society and culture, no student visas, no holiday visas, and certainly no green cards; and end to birth tourism and citizenship for babies of illegals; a focus on immigration from countries that share the values and beliefs that are foundational to Western civilization.

Not all cultures are equally valid. Let’s stop pretending that that is so and use immigration policy to build the country rather than rend it apart.

Nobody in the GOP will say these things.

No matter what Iron Clad Requirements that immigration legislation contains, it can all blow away with two words: Presidential Waiver.

Obama can turn any immigraiton bill into Amnesty on a whim.

RE: Obama will not sign a meaningful “enforcement first” bill…

Why not sign the law and then ignore it? Remember under Bush we pasted a mandate to build hundreds of miles of border fence? Who is that coming along?

    Please understand how genuinely perverse a plan to build a border fence across the borders of Texas and New Mexico would be.

    That land is arid, with very little population, and with few roads. It is forbidding, and a barrier all on its own. Traffic is very limited.

    Add this huge construction project, and you will add roads and small towns all along the border, eventually resulting in a far more porous border. Really. I agree with the sentiment, but the proposed solution would be a very expensive way to get results you would like.

      walls in reply to Valerie. | February 3, 2014 at 11:58 am

      All you really need are armed patriots on the border – believe me, plenty would volunteer. Two warning shots would be fired first urging the intruders to go back … sounds totally fair and very plausible to me.

      DaMav in reply to Valerie. | February 3, 2014 at 4:01 pm

      Sorry but the nation that built nearly 50,000 miles of Interstate highway can build a sturdy double fence and a two lane road covered by monitors and backed with armed response. The fact is, the open borders lobby does NOT want secure borders. That, rather than technical problems, is the block. These are folks that routinely pour billions of tax dollars into every conceivable rat hole, but suddenly feign cost consciousness at the mention of a fence.

        Karen Sacandy in reply to DaMav. | February 3, 2014 at 7:03 pm

        Isn’t it the truth! Rathole after rathole, but try to perform their constitutional duty to protect the country from invasion, and it’s nothing but static.

      huskers-for-palin in reply to Valerie. | February 5, 2014 at 8:39 am

      You don’t want a border fence? Okay, I’ll compromise…..minefields on the land and sharks with fricken lasers in the Rio Grande.

    Obama can sign anything. Then he can grant Waivers.

If the Republicans want to win on the issue, pass something to make the process a little easier for legal immigrants (who often wait a decade for citizenship) and include severe financial penalties for anyone hiring an illegal alien.

Obama/Reid will refuse to do anything with it, and then the Republicans can demagogue the Democrats on it.

The current issue though is that the Republican leadership would rather be a minority then large majorities made up of “tea party” conservatives.

After all, Boehner and co want to control Obama’s Leviathan, not get rid of it…

    Valerie in reply to 18-1. | February 3, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Guest worker program. We have had one in the past, and it was useful to put an end to an illegal immigration problem, before. We need one now.

    We can and should presume that everyone who is here illegally came here just to work, and because they refused to subject themselves to our laws, neither they nor their children are presumably eligible for citizenship. They can have visas to come and go as they please.

    Citizenship is a separate issue, and could be considered on a case-by-case basis. Those who can show a good-faith attempt to comply with our laws, such as by legal entry, mere technical violation, and payment of all taxes, could be eligible for citizenship.

Immigration reform isn’t about supplying a constantly refreshed supply of new Democratic voters from outside the US.

    Immolate in reply to Neo. | February 3, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    “Immigration reform SHOULDN’T BE about supplying a constantly refreshed supply of new Democratic voters from outside the US.”


Hard to believe we’re even having this conversation.

Every time I hear Paul Ryan say “it’s not amnesty” I want to punch his face.

It wasn’t amnesty in 1986 either. Then the law passed. Then it was.

I sense that, if amnesty passes, it will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, allowing a real third party to emerge. It will be messy and painful for a time.

    Karen Sacandy in reply to Immolate. | February 3, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    The camel’s back has been broken, I believe. The problem is – and I know this from struggling with it on the ground – that ballot access is uniformly blocked for 3rd parties. Just getting on the ballot is ridiculously, prohibitively difficult.

    That is why I prefer infiltration of the GOP. And I’m seeing it come to pass here and there in Georgia. It works. Try it in your own county and state.

It’s a trap.


Focus on what Americans care about, not on what the oligarchy is pushing.

Take the low-hanging fruit of American’s disgust with ObamaDoggle and its manifold lies.

Run on reforming our government to bring it back to voters.

ObamaCare proves the foolishness of confusing tough words on paper with assumed tough results in actual policy.

The actual law required the employer mandate begin Jan 1 2014, are they suffering along with the hoi poloi?

Even should the immigration law demand a granite wall 10-feet thick must be built before immigrants are granted probationary status NO ONE THINKS it would happen. All enforcement provisions are only a fig leaf with no consequence.

We’ve gone from the majesty of the law to the utter contempt of the citizens by lawmakers.

Immigration Bypass is another smoke and mirrors trick by Dems to demonize Republicans and to take all eyes off of Benghazi, Fast & Furious, Obamaheroin and a host of other negligent acts by this administration.

Secure out borders first. Period. No more narco-terrorists, no more jihadists, no more, no more, no more.

This would in fact give the NSA something to do other than monitoring phone calls to my mother. And, even the IRS could get involved. They could stand at the border collecting illegal entry fines and/or taxes.

And if people come here because they cannot flourish in their own country then maybe it is time they rectify their home situation – not escape the madness but end the madness. With Progressives in power America is becoming just like the place they want to leave anyway.

    Midwest Rhino in reply to Sally Paradise. | February 3, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    if people come here because they cannot flourish in their own country then maybe it is time they rectify their home situation – not escape the madness but end the madness. With Progressives in power America is becoming just like the place they want to leave anyway. “

    It is no accident America is becoming a banana republic, run by “mobsters”, intent on dismantling everything that made us.

    imo, Obama’s model is something like Venezuela. Get enough “peasantry” demanding wealth distribution from the demonized “rich” private businesses, to eternally vote in leftists as their “pope”. Agitprop as seen with Trayvon, with foreign reinforcements.

    I keep repeating this, but it is SO telling. Obama/Hillary joined Chavez/Castro in supporting Zelaya’s attempt to break the Honduran constitution (extending his term limits). Zelaya used an appeal to the peasantry, and support from the narco regimes like Venezuela.

    And don’t forget the Obama campaign organizer with the Che banner on her office wall. Just a low level staffer again of course, but no one at that office felt it was out of place apparently.

    The left wants to import the Sandinistas, in effect. A militant army that sees the revolutionary soldier as a savior, and the white westerner as the devil. Even those that just want to come here and do field work will likely have a favorable view of Che Guevara.

listingstarboard | February 3, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Not so fast you lying crapweasels Ryan, Boehner and Cantor. They are just trying to tamp down the opposition –DO NOT TRUST these bags of greed they are just trying to lull you into a sense of false security. Double down your efforts to let them know amnesty is suicide!!! Amnest is not possible because Obama does not follow the law–PERIOD. Republicans have the perfect “out” and a chance to highlight the complete disregard of the Law by Obama and Holder in the process. I will never trust Paul Ryan.

RINOs’ preferred base: Berkley Progressives b/c Liberal Media.

MaggotAtBroadAndWall | February 3, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Democrats have been lying to Hispanics for years claiming legalizing the illegals is a high priority to get the votes of legal Hispanic immigrants. The best theory I’ve heard is that Democrats now fear losing Hispanic support if it does not happen. So Obama is putting pressure on big business, effectively saying that if they do not pressure the GOP to make it happen, then Obama’s going to start making life difficult for them. So the Chamber of Commerce and other special interests who benefit from illegal labor are putting the heat on the GOP establishment.

Now the GOP has to decide if they represent the people who elect them or the Chamber of Commerce and special interests who help finance their elections.

Henry Hawkins | February 3, 2014 at 1:58 pm

They keep using that word. Does the GOP leadership understand what the term ‘principle’ means?

What I’d like to see is the expulsion of Boehner, Cantor, Ryan, and Goodlatte from their leadership positions within the House. They do NOT represent the vast majority of Republicans. And they are effectively undermining the GOP.

The original Boehner idea of piecemeal plans was the best, but the danger remains that the Senate would attempt to force a conference with the Schumer-Rubio fiasco. Boehner has ruled that out, but there would be pressure and that could create a side issue if nothing else. So the best plan is to just wait.

If we take the Senate, pass the enforcement provisions only – visa tracking, universal e-Verify for employment, and increased border security – and wait for them to be enforced to pass anything else. Any kind of “trigger” with the following provisions already passed runs the risk of a rogue President or idiot judge misinterpreting the law.

Just don’t include the carrot in the package with the stick.

    Midwest Rhino in reply to Estragon. | February 3, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    Any bill should make the stick necessary, but not sufficient, for the carrot. America wants enforcement, not open borders.

    In other words, it is not a trade, (no borders) carrot for a (uphold current law) stick. The stick is just enforcing our laws, despite Holder’s policy of breaking/neglecting all enforcement law. A new bill should stop Holder’s no enforcement (illegal) policy, and handcuff him, preferably literally.

    When did our chief LEO become an agent FOR illegals, AGAINST the states that are harmed by illegals? And he gives them “assault weapons”. WTF

“So why bother now of all times?”

Because they know after the 2014 elections they will not have a snowball’s chance in hell.

Which gets back to the question the core problem — Republicans never can jump high enough on immigration amnesty to satisfy Democrats without a complete capitulation.

So why bother now of all times?

Please allow Victor Davis Hanson to answer for me:

We know the entry of 11 million illegal aliens depresses the wages of the poor and entry-level working class. Illegal immigration overwhelms state services, and that too hurts citizens most in need of help. The lower-middle classes do not have low-paid nannies, gardeners, and house-keepers. We know the illegal influx pleases La Raza activists, most of them second- and third-generation elites in government, politics, journalism and education, who without illegal immigration would not have much of a moral or legal justification for the continuance of affirmative action and identity politics, given that statistically Latinos would soon follow the pattern of other assimilated groups. (For example, is there affirmative action for Armenian immigrants? An Italian Razza movement? Punjabi Studies?)

We also know that cheap labor in the shadows benefits corporate business, eager for low-wage laborers. So how hard is it for a Republican simply to say, “I oppose illegal immigration because (1) it is illegal. It undermines the sanctity of the law and discriminates against the law-abiding waiting in line to enter the U.S. legally. (2) It benefits corporate grandees at the expense of working people. (3) It is driven by self-serving elites of the ethnic-grievance industry to enhance their own advantage, rather than to help poor folks struggling to find decent wages and schools. Illegal immigration, in short, is the most illiberal issue of our time.

(Emphasis added)

“So why bother now of all times?”
The same reason for all of those votes trying to repeal/defund/delay ObamaCare. To get Democrats on record opposing strong border enforcement.

huskers-for-palin | February 5, 2014 at 8:43 am

Obamacare whacking jobs, EPA whacking jobs, debt whacking jobs, new regulations whacking jobs….and what’s the govt’s response? HEY, MORE AMNESTY!!!

I think that the reason that I find this so depressing is that this isn’t something being pushed by the Republican base, but rather, by the power brokers in DC. And, the Republican leadership seem convinced that they can deliver something to such. But, there is no real reason to do so in an election year, when the focus should be on ACA/ObamaCare and the President’s implementation of such. The Democrats are desperate for anything to distract from this fiasco, and, are pushing Immigration “reform” for just this reason. But, again, what is depressing is that the House leadership somehow thinks that getting sidetracked is in the party’s benefit. Sure, they will still have at least their Congressional seats after the next election, and the Republicans will still likely control the House, but this is their best chance at retaking the Senate, and they are seemingly willing to squander it to appease these inside-the-beltway power brokers and lobbyists. They really do deserve to lose their leadership posts if they continue this folly.