February 5, 2013

BYRON YORK: Legalization-first could scuttle immigration plan.

To hear Sen. Charles Schumer tell it, lawmakers crafting an immigration reform bill will focus on two big tasks. “First, defining metrics that demonstrate that the border is secure,” the New York Democrat explained at a Jan. 31 news conference. “Second, defining exactly what the path to citizenship looks like and how it proceeds.”

For Schumer and some Senate colleagues, that is the short version of immigration reform: First, border security, and second, a path to citizenship.

But immigration reform as envisioned by the so-called Gang of Eight is actually a three-step process. Schumer left out the first part: immediate legalization of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country. In the statement of principles released by the gang on Jan. 28, legalization begins the process, followed by securing the border, and then, after an as-yet-undefined standard of border enforcement is met, a path to citizenship.

It’s the first step, immediate legalization, that worries skeptics. Those worries intensified after Schumer and others gave varying accounts of how they expect it all to work.

I’m sure it will work out as well as the health “reform” bill did.