What should the House do on immigration? (UPDATED)

Paul Ryan said this morning on Bill Bennett’s show that the House will not take up the Senate’s immigration reform bill. Instead, says Ryan, the House will “do a different approach,” with “a border security trigger first.” I assume this means that a border security trigger will precede the legalization of illegal immigrants.

I submit that Ryan’s is precisely the wrong approach for the House to take. The Senate has made it clear that immigration reform that doesn’t legalize illegal immigrants first is dead on arrival. So why waste time in the House going through the extended exercise of developing, considering, and passing such legislation, or any other legislation (including an enforcement-only bill) that falls materially short of what the Senate has opted for?

The only sensible reason I can think of is to get to a House-Senate conference at which the Senate’s approach will have to be “taken up” and might, quite possibly, be adopted with a few face-saving modifications.

I see Ryan’s approach as the House equivalent of what Rubio has done in the Senate (though, I hope, without the bad faith). Rubio pushed for the most pro-illegal immigrant legislation that he thought could obtain the number of votes he and Chuck Schumer wanted (roughly 70). Ryan, it seems, will push for the most pro-illegal immigrant legislation he can get in the Republican-controlled, more conservative House.

The Senate worked hard on its amnesty legislation, and in the process made clear what is and is not acceptable reform in its view. I would like to see the House take the Senate at its word; determine whether the Senate bill passes muster under the Hastert Rule; and, if not, kill the bill and move on to other matters.

UPDATE: Allahpundit contends that “the House will, and really must, pass some sort of immigration reform of its own, if only for tactical reasons” because “killing the Gang of Eight bill and offering nothing in return is, shall we say, a ‘bad narrative’ to hand to the media.”

I agree that the House will pass something, but I don’t believe that it “must” or should. Passing something creates the real risk that a House-Senate conference will opt for legislation similar to what the Senate will soon pass. Passing nothing eliminates that risk.

As for a “bad narrative,” the media will concoct one under any scenario short of enactment of immigration legislation favored by the left. If the Republicans don’t back down in conference, there’s your bad narrative. If they back down but the conference report isn’t presented to the full House for a vote, there’s your bad narrative. If the conference report gets to the House and is rejected (which it wouldn’t be), there’s your bad narrative.

Every Republican House member was elected in a terrible year for the party in the face of a “bad media narrative.” None should risk the enactment of amnesty legislation based on fear of what the MSM will say.

JOHN adds: Amen. Republicans need to fight back against media narratives, not cower before them. It would help, though, if Republican politicians defended themselves against press/Democrat attacks more skillfully. In the case of immigration, I don’t think that is too tough: Republicans shouldn’t emphasize illegals, “dreamers,” the fence, and so on. That plays into the media’s false narrative. Rather, they should talk relentlessly about the fact that the Gang’s bill represents a frontal assault on the American working class. If voters had any idea that the bill will bring about somewhere between 30 and 60 million new LEGAL immigrants over the next ten years, 90% unskilled, low-wage workers, they would flee from it.


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