January 24, 2014
John Walker

Legalization Now, Citizenship Later

Before the end of the month, House Speaker John Boehner will unveil the first installment of his master plan for immigration reform, an amnesty scheme that promises to be the biggest legislative hoax since the passage of Obamacare nearly four years ago.

Step one will be Boehner’s much-anticipated statement of immigration “principles,” which may be released even before President Obama’s State of the Union address next Tuesday. It will be a vague and sweeping document full of high-minded platitudes.

Nevertheless, Boehner’s message will be clear to anxious campaign donors from big business: We’re dedicated to opening the borders to millions of low-wage workers. The message will be clear as well to House Democrats: We’re ready to deal so you can draft plans to recruit millions of new voters.

The mainstream media will hail Boehner’s “principles” as a legislative breakthrough. The airwaves will be filled with Republicans and Democrats alike giddy with anticipation of an amnesty bill that at last will reform the so-called “broken” immigration laws.

Step two will be the aptly named House Republican retreat that will convene in Maryland from January 29 to 31. It will be a contentious session. Conservatives in the caucus will urge Boehner to be aggressive leading up to the November elections with strong initiatives such as a replacement for Obamacare and tax reform. Boehner will advocate a go-slow approach to let Obamacare take its toll. Amidst much unrest, Boehner will prevail. There will be no resolution of the immigration debate.

Then Boehner will move to step three of his immigration scheme. He will present his piecemeal approach to reform, complete with promises of border security and a grab bag of other proposals including employer verification of new workers, an expanded guest worker program, and a version of the Dream Act.

The centerpiece will be the stickiest point of all – legal status for the estimated 11 million illegals living in the country. Boehner and his allies – Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, Paul Ryan, Bob Goodlatte – will reject claims that legalization is a step toward citizenship. They will insist that legal status will only give illegals the right to work and the obligation to play taxes.

House Democrats will hold their fire and agree. They know that the next step in the process will be a conference with the Senate, where most of the provisions of the Gang of Eight bill passed last year in the Senate will be combined with the individual bills passed in the House. Citizenship will be only a step away.

President Obama already has blessed Boehner’s master plan. He will speak enthusiastically in the State of the Union address about the prospects for passage of immigration reform, knowing confidently that he and the Speaker agree.

Boehner’s grand scheme is a risky gambit. He may have to wait until after the most contested Republican primaries to avoid outright revolt in the ranks. But he will persevere. His debt to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business interests for campaign funds is too great to ignore.

Left out of the equation will be millions of Americans fighting for jobs in the nonexistent Obama economic recovery. Eventually their voices will be heard. They will speak loudly at the ballot box in Republican primaries and again in November.