The Democrats should cave on immigration reform. Somewhat.

6/24/2013 12:00:00 PM
Matt Yglesias has an interesting post on how the failure of the GOP version of the farm bill re-authorization might mean that immigration reform is a bit more likely. Basically, his argument is that the easiest way to block reform is for Boehner to divide the congress by having the House pass a GOP reform bill that is similar to the senate, but without the controversial amnesty and path to citizenship parts.

I don't really think that amnesty and citizenship are what is actually holding up reform. I think the GOP, in reality, is basically satisfied by the status quo immigration laws, and they just have to talk the talk about reform because they know many of their constituents aren't. However, if those are the things holding up the bill, then the democrats should offer a compromise: full amnesty, in exchange for no citizenship.

Let me be clear, I support an easy path to citizenship both for illegal immigrants (but otherwise law-abiding) who are here, as well as new legal immigrants. However, when pressed on the question of whether it is more inhumane to grant amnesty but not citizenship--thus bringing them within the protections of the law--versus neither amnesty nor citizenship, I think it is the latter. The fact is that, without the protections of the law, illegal immigrants are a heavily exploited and oppressed class and that amnesty without citizenship will end that exploitation.

But here's the thing: once amnesty is granted, pushing for citizenship will be much easier. In fact, I suspect that eventually, the supreme court would step in to rule that failing to give them a reasonable path to citizenship--commensurate with what other immigrants face--creates a suspect class and deprives them of equal protection of the laws.

So if immigration reform can be bought by sticking the citizenship clause in a drawer for a while, I'd say the price is right.