Is a Toomey-Manchin Compromise In the Works On Immigration?

A friend who is deeply connected in Washington and involved in the immigration battle writes:

Regarding reports that Rubio is working with Sen. Cornyn on this border security amendment, a usually good source tells me:

It’s a trap. They are going to Toomey-Manchin this thing: Announce a big compromise right before the vote, give no one any time to read it, and scare GOP moderates into voting for it.

Same with the rumor out there that Rubio may leave the Gang of Eight. In other words, Rubio protests, but then makes a big deal about how the amendment fixes the border security weakness in the bill so he can support it now. Big media blitz right before vote claiming the bill is fixed. Between us, I could totally see that happening. What do you think?

Toomey-Manchin, of course, was the 11th-hour compromise on gun control that failed narrowly in the Senate. What do I think? Several things:

1) The scenario is highly plausible. I don’t think Rubio would do it cynically, but he has a lot invested in immigration “reform” and no doubt would like to be able to pronounce that some new package of security provisions is adequate.

2) This possibility emphasizes, once again, that the whole “border security” issue is nothing but a trap for conservatives. The idea that we should trade the other provisions in the Gang’s bill for border security–even airtight, perfect border security, starting tomorrow–is a delusion. The problem with the Gang’s proposal is that it a) immediately legalizes 11 million illegal immigrants, and then b) authorizes a vast increase in legal immigration over the coming years, particularly immigration of low-skilled workers. There are two estimates of how much legal immigration will increase in the next ten years under the Gang’s bill, over and above currently authorized levels. The lower estimate is 30 million, which represents more than one-quarter of the population of Mexico. The higher estimate is 57 million. The authors of the bill refuse to say how many legal immigrants it authorizes in the years to come.

It is blindingly obvious that border security is only relevant to keeping out new illegals (the ones already here will be amnestied). But if the Gang’s bill goes through, the number of new illegals could be zero, and the bill is still a disaster for America. Mass importation of low-skilled immigrants is not bad because they are illegal, it is bad because we already do not have enough jobs for the many millions of low-skilled American citizens in whose interest Congress should be acting. Low-skilled Americans are struggling; everyone knows that. Unemployment and poverty are sky-high. If we can’t find enough jobs for the low-skilled workers we already have, how in the world can we find enough jobs for those workers, plus tens of millions more? Unemployment will rise, wages will be driven down even further, and the country’s welfare system will be strained to the breaking point. This is the consequence of legal immigration under the Gang’s bill, not illegal immigration. So border security is irrelevant.

The Gang’s 1,000-page bill is so impenetrable that analysts are still trying to figure out how many millions of new immigrants it authorizes. Today the Center for Immigration Studies published a report that shows the Gang’s bill will double the annual flow of “guest workers” into the United States:

[I]n the first year, the bill (S.744) would admit nearly 1.6 million more temporary workers than currently allowed. After that initial spike, the bill would increase annual temporary worker admissions by more than 600,000 each year over the current level – an increase four times larger than the one called for in the 2007 Bush-Kennedy proposal (about 125,000).

As a result, this bill would roughly double the number of temporary workers admitted each year (nearly 700,000 in 2012). These workers are classified as “non-immigrants” and would be in addition to S.744′s large proposed increase in annual permanent legal immigrants competing for jobs (more than 30 million in the next decade).

Are we really crazy enough to even consider enacting legislation, when its authors refuse to tell us, to within the nearest ten million, how many low-skilled workers will be imported to compete with American citizens who are already barely hanging on? I can understand why you might favor the Gang’s “reform” if you own a slaughterhouse: wouldn’t it be great to have five or six unemployed men competing for every job? I can understand why a Democratic politician might favor the bill: bad for America, but who cares? It will lead to many millions of new Democratic voters. But why on Earth would anyone who has the best interests of American workers at heart even consider supporting the Gang’s proposal, which does nothing to reform the real problems with our immigration laws, like chain migration, and would devastate America’s working class?

Some people are starting to catch on. Thus, a group of African-American leaders has issued an open letter, calling on Senators to:

…consider the disastrous effects that Senate Bill 744 would have on low skill workers of all races, while paying particular attention to the potential harm to African Americans. Credible research indicates that black workers will suffer the greatest harm if this legislation were to be passed.

So cracks are beginning to appear in the Democrats’ support for a massive new wave of legal immigration. The dumbest thing Republicans could possibly do at this point would be to take Democrats off the hook by signing on to a phony “compromise” that improves border security while doing nothing about the tens of millions of new immigrants and “guest workers” who will flow right past that border fence because they are now legal residents.

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