So the Gang of Eight in the Senate has a deal on immigration. The border security issue, which conservatives want, is handled thusly:
During the first decade after passage, the bill sets ambitious goals for border authorities — including continuous surveillance of 100 percent of the United States border and 90 percent effectiveness of enforcement in several high-risk sectors — and for other workplace and visa enforcement measures. It provides at least $3 billion for Homeland Security officials to meet those goals during the first five years, with a possibility of additional financing.
The bill includes provisions, or “triggers,” during that decade that allow Congress at different points to ensure the enforcement goals are being met.
That sounds to me like an easy way out. D'oh, triggers not being met, kill the rest of the bill! But wait:
The senators’ compromise allows Republican lawmakers, including Senators John McCain of Arizona and Marco Rubio of Florida, to say that they achieved border enforcement advances in the bill as a condition before any illegal immigrants can apply for permanent-resident green cards, the first step toward citizenship.
But it also allows Democrats to describe the border measures as goals that can be achieved with the resources provided, so they will not become roadblocks that could stop the immigrants from reaching the final stage of citizenship.
That sounds like a win for the Democrats to me. The hard-right forces wanted real triggers, as in, if they weren't being met, the rest of the bill was in effect cancelled.
So this raises, or re-raises, the question that I think has always been the pivotal one about this. When push comes to shove at the eleventh hour, is the right-wing base going to be able to abide this? Will Rush Limbaugh and his imitators? If they can, we'll get immigration reform. If not, it might make it through the Senate but die in the House. Watch Rubio--if in his public comments he's sounding confident and going out on a limb, you can tell he thinks it will pass.