- - Monday, October 14, 2013

President Obama says that he wants to end the government shutdown on his own terms because he’s got other things to do. “We’ve got to create more jobs,” he says, “and [we’ve got] kids to educate, and an immigration system to fix.” While veterans were told on one side of the national Mall they couldn’t visit the World War II Memorial during the temporary slimdown of the government’s nonessential functions, the administration invited an amnesty rally featuring Democratic members of Congress, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, to campaign on the other side of the Mall.

A new report from the Center for Immigration Studies details why amnesty for the illegals is so important to the Democrats. Based on projections from the Congressional Budget Office, the immigration think tank estimates that the Senate’s comprehensive immigration-reform bill would create 17 million additional voting-age citizens by 2036. “To place these figures in perspective,” Steven A. Camarota writes, “the last four presidential elections were decided by 4.5 million votes on average.”

Democrats expect that nearly all of the newly minted voters would be eager to join the party of expanding government. A 2012 Pew Research poll asked whether Americans would rather have a “smaller government providing fewer services” or a “larger government providing more services.” Hispanic Americans favor larger government 75 percent to 19 percent. Among Hispanics who have been in the United States for three generations or more, enthusiasm for big government wanes slightly but is still strong at 58 percent. The Democratic prescription to throw open the border is transparently self-serving.

That makes it especially difficult to understand how any Republican could fail to see what’s going on. The four Republicans who make up half of the “Gang of Eight” apparently think that a “me, too” strategy of amnesty would freshen up the Republican label for Hispanic voters. No Republican presidential nominee has received more than 40 percent of the Hispanic vote since the 1986 immigration-reform bill, which was supported by many Republicans and signed by President Reagan, a Republican.

The House Republican leaders are considering the possibility of caving, by adopting “limited” immigration reforms after they cave on health care, and after they further cave on spending and debt, all to get from under the shutdown. This plays smartly into the hands of Democrats. Mrs. Pelosi has warmed to the piecemeal reforms of House Republicans in the belief that the Republicans would then give way to the Senate’s amnesty in a House-Senate conference. Democrats, she made clear, would do “whatever it takes” to make that happen. House Republicans ignore that warning at the peril of both their party and their country.

The border must be controlled — with no tricks — before Congress can begin to make the necessary changes in how the immigration system works. Spending and welfare programs must be under control before Congress thinks about opening the border to millions of new immigrants.