PRUDEN: The Republican suicide strategy on immigration

The Republicans are said to be looking for “something big” to smooth the rough places in the path to November, to make life easy and comfortable for incumbents, something to get that infernal racket of the guns out of their ears. Politics can be so fatiguing.

Suicide is “something big,” so they’re thinking about it.

Surrender and suicide comes easy for certain Republicans, particularly when it’s surrender to greed and avarice. If you can wrap avarice in a little piety, it’s easier still. Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee and the man who’s paid to have the answers about politics, says the “something big” has to be an “overhaul” of the nation’s immigration laws — not tomorrow, but now.

“I think politically speaking it’s a mixed bag, but the question is whether or not it’s something we have to do as a country, and I think that’s what’s trumping the political answer.” He just wants to do the right thing, regardless of cost or consequences. If true, this would be a first in American politics. Imagine politicians oblivious to politics.

But that’s nonsense and fools nobody. Other considerations are driving the Republican establishment to throw in the towel on immigration. They’re tired of the daily beatings about the head and shoulders by the Democrats, the contempt of the liberal media, the disrespect and disdain of their own constituents who smell the sour aroma of sellout. The aroma is drifting in on a cold wind from Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where the Republican soldiers of the House are in a comfortable “retreat” for the weekend.

The “something big” plotted by the Republican leadership is the warmed-over scheme by the Senate’s so-called “Gang of Eight,” designed to grant amnesty to the 10 million or 11 million illegal aliens already here, with a few “safeguards” that can be dispensed with later.

The aim of the amnesty-mongers is clear. They see how the Democrats have come to regard illegal immigration as an endless source of new votes. Some Democrats call immigration reform “our ATM machine,” where votes can be withdrawn as needed. Republicans are naturally envious, and some of them want one of those ATM machines, too.

The Republican leaders, such as they are, are under considerable pressure from big-business interests — not the small-business interests that are the natural Republican constituency — to open the gates for another wave of cheap and easily abused labor. This would keep the workers already here in line, tugging at their forelocks.

Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama dissents from the emerging Republican rush to suicide. His three-page memo, hand delivered to every Republican member of the House, sets out the peril to his party in the warmed-over Democratic plan.

The Republican leaders are said to be negotiating with Democrats for the final legislation, which only then would be presented to their own members. Nancy Pelosi as co-leader of the Republican majority. Who knew?

Mr. Sessions smells betrayal of American workers. Over the past decade, he observes, more immigrants, legal and illegal, have arrived in America than in any previous decade in the nation’s history. This coincides “with wage stagnation, enormous growth in welfare programs and a shrinking workforce participation rate.

A sensible, conservative approach would focus on lifting those living here today, both immigrant and native born, out of poverty and into the middle class — before doubling or tripling the level of immigration into the United States.”

He calls the Senate plan, which has been approved and waits only for House concurrence to put it on the president’s desk, “a hammer blow to the middle class.” He says Congress, like the president, should focus only on getting Americans back to work, and warmed-over immigration won’t do it.

“Not only would [amnesty] grant work permits to millions of illegal immigrants at a time of record joblessness, it would double the annual flow of new immigrant workers and provide green cards to more than 30 million permanent residents over the next decade.”

Immigration reform could wait until the Republicans control both the Senate and the House, enabling them to write the law when they wouldn’t have to be satisfied with “a mixed bag.” This they seemed exquisitely poised to do, with the congressional Democrats, dazed by the collapse of the president and his health care scheme, stumbling and looking for the exits.

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