Immigration reform prerequisites?
There are some like Paul Ryan who are willing to give the illegals probationary status while enforcement is put in place. I suspect that will be a none starter with many Republicans. The problem with these plans is they are being written with a President who has shown absolute bad faith in enforcement of the current immigration laws and with other laws he find inconvenient to his objectives....And then there are by-now familiar guidelines for the handling of the 11 or 12 million immigrants in the country illegally. "These persons could live legally and without fear in the U.S.," the principles say, "but only if they were willing to admit their culpability, pass rigorous background checks, pay significant fines and back taxes, develop proficiency in English and American civics, and be able to support themselves and their families (without access to public benefits)."
That, too, is all standard issue. But then, in the very last sentence of the principles, comes the key to the whole thing: "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."
It is not an exaggeration to say that the future of immigration reform in Congress depends on whether Republican leaders mean what they say in that single sentence.
If they do, and the GOP insists on actual border security measures being in place -- not just passed, not just contemplated, but actually in place -- before illegal immigrants are allowed to register for legal status, then there will likely be significant Republican support for such a bill. (It might well be a deal-killer for most Democrats, but that is another story.)
If, on the other hand, GOP lawmakers wiggle around the clear meaning of the principles' last sentence to allow legalization to begin before security measures have been implemented, then the party will be back to the same divisions and animosities that have plagued Republicans since the terrible fights over immigration reform in 2006 and 2007.
Right now, it's impossible to say which way GOP leaders will go. But there are signs that the wiggling is already underway.