David Frum

05.21.13

Why Should Conservatives Have to Trust Obama on Immigration?

Alex Wong/Getty Images ()

Mark Krikorian takes up the question at National Review. In an editorial National Review published yesterday, multiple examples are listed of why conservatives are right to be concerned that this bill will set the stage for future waves of unauthorized immigration:

Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) offered an amendment that would have required the completion of 700 miles of double-layer fencing along the southern border before the bill’s liberalization program could kick in. The committee rejected that amendment.

Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) offered an amendment that would have substantially increased the personnel and equipment available for policing the southern border and would have implemented direct accountability procedures — including docking the pay of political appointees and imposing budget cuts — if well-defined border-security benchmarks were not met. The committee rejected the amendment.

Senator Mike Lee (R., Utah) offered an amendment that would have required Congress to conduct a simple up-or-down vote ratifying or rejecting the Department of Homeland Security’s certification that the border-security measures contained in the bill are in fact operational. This was an especially crucial measure: Members of Congress are directly politically accountable to their constituents, whereas members of the permanent bureaucracies and political appointees do not face election. The committee rejected the amendment.

Senator Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) offered an amendment that would have imposed a six-month assessment period between the time DHS certifies that the border is secure and the beginning of the “path to citizenship” process. The committee rejected the amendment.

Perhaps most telling, Senator Sessions also introduced an amendment that would have limited the total flow of new legal immigrants to 30 million over the coming decade. The committee rejected that amendment by a vote of 17 to 1, suggesting that even the broadest and most general kinds of controls are on the outs. Is there a proportion of foreign-born citizens — workers, voters, political constituents — that is too large? If not one-fifth, what about one-third? What about half?

I will happily trade an immigration amnesty for real enforcement measures that ensure we never do this again. But if, as it's starting to look, Democrats block said measures, I'm not sure how conservatives can in good conscience support the bill.