Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Commentary

May 13, 2013

A majority leader in training

Everyone presumes that Sen. Chuck Schumer, the media-hungry Democrat from New York, wants to be the next Senate majority leader. His performance in the negotiations over the Gang of Eight immigration plan should bolster his case for an eventual promotion.

Schumer has been at the center of crafting a bill for a mass amnesty of undocumented immigrants that has high-profile, bipartisan support and a chance of becoming law. He had the shrewdness to realize what he needed to do to make the bill viable.

If you’re going to have any hope of passing a sweeping amnesty bill in a divided Congress, you need a conservative Republican with credibility with the party’s base willing to go out and aggressively advocate for it. If he’s a potential front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, all the better.

You need bells and whistles about triggers and enforcement so the aforementioned conservative Republican can portray the bill as a toughening of the nation’s immigration laws.

But, to make it palatable to your own side, you need a near-instantaneous amnesty before anything else meaningful happens.

Check, check, and check. Even the most incorrigible Schumer critic has to concede: Well played, Senator, well played.

Schumer rightly recognized the importance of keeping on board Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who has been tireless and fearless in making the case for the Gang of Eight’s approach. The muted reaction of the right to the bill is a testament to its fondness and respect for Rubio.

Schumer managed to hold Rubio and win his grudging respect, while selling him a lopsided deal. Rubio traded amnesty — although he refuses to call it that — for an enforcement plan on paper and a commission to be named later.

Under the bill, no additional enforcement has to take place before undocumented immigrants get legalized. The secretary of the Department of Homeland Security merely has to come up with a strategy for enforcement and notify Congress that it has commenced. It doesn’t matter if it is a good, bad, or indifferent plan, so long as it is a plan. Then, an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants get legal status.

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