GOP Strategy: Divide and Submit

The New York Times` headline seems accurate:

Republicans’ Immigration Blueprint Leaves Party at Odds and Democrats Hopeful

CAMBRIDGE, Md. — The House Republican leadership’s call on Thursday to provide legal status for 11 million undocumented workers, and possible citizenship for those brought to this country as children, caused sharp division within the party even as it provided a starting point for negotiations with Democrats on overhauling the nation’s immigration system. 

Many Republicans rejected the one-page “standards for immigration reform” outright, and others said now was not the time for a legislative push on a number of contentious issues in an election year with trends going their way. Even their leader was cautious about where the issue will go from here. 

“It’s time to deal with it, but how you deal with it is critically important,” Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio said Thursday at the Republican leaders’ annual issues conference retreat here. “It’s one thing to pass a law, it’s another thing to have the confidence of the American people behind that law.” 

A closed-door discussion on immigration at the retreat was described by a House member as “very passionate,” with a “sizable bloc” opposing the leadership’s position. Members took turns expressing their distrust of President Obama and Senate Democrats as negotiating partners, and many of the Republicans said they were torn over whether to turn the principles into an actual legislative effort.

… Still, Democrats from Obama to Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York and Representative Luis V. Gutierrez of Illinois expressed optimism for an accord. …

“I actually think we have a good chance of getting immigration reform,” Mr. Obama told Jake Tapper of CNN in an interview in Wisconsin. 

… The deepest skepticism emerged around immigration. The Republican blueprint issued Thursday specifies that “there will be no special path to citizenship for individuals who broke our nation’s immigration laws,” and lays out the party’s belief that “specific enforcement triggers,” as well as border security and interior enforcement measures, must be in place before any undocumented immigrant can gain legal status.

Because nobody would ever, ever lie about how well things are going vis-a-vis immigration. Look how well social scientist Jason Richwine was treated last year—maybe some people disagreed with his interpretations of generations of data, but nobody disputed his right to say that immigration wasn`t working out well.

At least in its broad strokes, it does not guarantee a path to citizenship but does not necessarily preclude one — something that is likely to be a deal-breaker for Democrats and immigration activists.

Amnesty plus “not necessarily preclude” citizenship sounds like about 4/5ths of the loaf for the Democrats.

“There will be no special path to citizenship for individuals who broke our nation’s immigration laws — that would be unfair to those immigrants who have played by the rules and harmful to promoting the rule of law,” according to the document. “Finally, none of this can happen before specific enforcement triggers have been implemented to fulfill our promise to the American people that from here on, our immigration laws will indeed be enforced.”

“From here on …” Man, those three words just make me feel all warm and confident inside.

Even the order of the principles was calculated to win over Republican doubters. 

The principles start with border security, the enforcement of laws preventing the hiring of illegal workers, a new visa tracking system and a beefed up employment verification system, before there is any discussion of expanded guest worker programs and the status of illegal immigrants already in the country. Many activists also said they were heartened that the Republican proposal, at least in its broad rendering, does not seem to preclude citizenship for many of the undocumented immigrants who receive legal status.