- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The status quo on immigration is “horrible for America,” Sen. Marco Rubio said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” On that much, all sides of the debate are pretty much in agreement.

The Florida Republican and the rest of the Senate “Gang of Eight” will outline their legislative solution to this enduring problem on Tuesday. With an estimated 11 million illegal aliens having successfully sneaked over, under and through the border into the country, the Gang’s proposal ought to be judged first and foremost on how comprehensively it deals with border security.

There’s plenty of reason for skepticism. When a gang is at work, there’s a desire to rush through legislation based on deals cut behind closed doors. Cutting deals is how gangs work. We ought to have learned our lesson from the Obamacare legislative model of “we have to pass it to find out what’s in it.” Nor should we fall for the trap laid by the 1986 immigration-reform legislation that President Reagan signed on the promise that the border finally would be secured. The Simpson-Mazzoli immigration bill gave amnesty to 3 million illegals, but it failed to seal entry points into the country. That encouraged the follow-on surge of illegal immigration, as millions hoped to take advantage of a future amnesty deal. Twenty-seven years and 11 million illegals later, we’re back where we started.

Republicans ought not be suckered into thinking Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would ever bring a bill to the floor that improves Republican standing among Hispanic voters. “Bipartisan compromise” always gives the left everything it wants, with few if any crumbs for conservatives.

President Obama, congressional Democrats and the leftist groups see a path to citizenship not as an act of compassion for millions of Hispanics, but as a conveyor belt onto the nation’s voter rolls. Border security is an afterthought, if it’s a thought at all.

Mr. Obama has declared “mission accomplished” on the border often, so he can insist in the next breath that there’s no reason for further delay on enacting immigration legislation. In May 2011, speaking in El Paso, Texas, the president said he had answered Republican demands for more border-security personnel and fencing, and chided Republicans for remaining unconvinced. “Maybe they’ll need a moat,” Mr. Obama said. “Maybe they want alligators in the moat.” As a late-night comic, Mr. Obama makes a mediocre president.

A little more than a month ago, the Department of Homeland Security began releasing more than 2,000 illegal immigrants from detention, citing sequestration budget cuts, not politics. Just last week, the president’s 2014 budget called for slashing funding for states that try to assist enforcing immigration laws, and for reducing the number of illegal immigrants the federal government detains while awaiting deportation.

Congress should take its time and not rush through another major piece of legislation without adequate review. Whatever this country does on immigration sends a signal to the other side of the border. A Texas rancher on whose land one illegal immigrant was arrested last week said the man taunted his Border Patrol captors in Spanish: “Obama’s gonna let me go.”

That’s no exaggeration. The administration has waved the amnesty flag for political gain. Republicans in Congress must not be duped again, enabling this amnesty to be fast-tracked in the name of reform. The Gang of Eight’s bill ought to be subject to regular order, with committee hearings and an unrestricted amendment process. “Horrible” the status quo may be, but the alternative could easily be worse.

The Washington Times