Like John, I probably will have much to say about the immigration proposal that was outlined today by a small bipartisan group of senators. For now, I want to expand on John’s concern about the cast of characters that has put this bipartisan deal together.
Even if one agrees with the concepts this group has built its deal around (and I don’t agree with the “path to citizenship” component), the devil will still be in the details. How, for example, are we going to ensure proper and timely background checks before giving legal status to those already here illegally?
The question thus arises, who within this bipartisan “gang” will master the details and thus effectively control the legislative product?
The word on Capitol Hill, including from a source who has worked extensively on immigration issues, is that the folks developing this Senate deal on the Republican side lack a solid understanding of immigration law, and are likely to have circles run around them by their Democratic counterparts and the advocacy groups that advise them. If so, the resulting legislation will be a disaster even for those who agree with the general track this deal is on.
Is my source overreacting? I doubt it. John McCain is the go-to guy on the Republican side. The in-depth understanding of any issue has never been McCain’s strong suit. Indeed, when it comes time to discuss details McCain usually doesn’t even like to listen.
McCain’s sidekick, Lindsey Graham, isn’t much better. He’s a grandstander and a posturer who likely will take his lead on substance from McCain, and devote his main efforts to articulating the deal in a way that makes him sound like a statesman. Don’t expect him to get down and dirty with the details.
As John asks, what could go wrong?