Winning the Immigration Lottery

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Dems are still moving ahead with the legislation but here’s a story from me about why the GOP is unlikely to play this year. There’s actually more risk in the Democratic strategy than I’d previously seen: a lot of folks on both sides are concerned that the draft legislation thus far was released — the compromise that was being negotiated between Lindsey Graham, Chuck Schumer, Bob Menendez and Harry Reid. A consensus takes a while to build: as with health care reform, alternatives have to be offered and fail before they can be discounted. Jumping right to a nearly-finished compromise pleased no one as groups on the left freaked out about the employer identification card, which they called the first step to national ID cards, and the right flipped over — what else? — amnesty. Why, Senate Democratic aides asked, didn’t leaders just put out a Democratic bill — a first offer? If this is all kabuki theater — in other words, everyone from the president on down doesn’t expect a bill to pass before the midterms — then why play with live ammunition? The answer is that the leaders were in a box: they had to show that they are trying in good faith to get something done. If they had unveiled a partisan Democratic bill that everyone knew had zero chance of passing, immigration groups would’ve been pissed that the leaders weren’t taking the subject seriously. But in playing ball now — in showing us their petticoats, so to speak — they’ve now left the bill to hang for the next however many months and to be picked apart by the vultures. In insisting that the push be done now immigration groups may well have endangered to the odds of final passage down the road.