During a week in which House Republicans announced a plan to do immigration legislation piecemeal and some Senate Republicans, led by Jeff Sessions and Chuck Grassley, continue to insist that we must slow down immigration reform, Gang of 8 members Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) appeared at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast event to vigorously champion their bill.
Any immigration bill that does not include a path to citizenship is “a nonstarter,” Schumer said. “Any attempt to say in the House that you will not have a path to citizenship, will be a nonstarter. I say that unequivocally. It will not pass the Senate.”
McCain agreed, “There’s no way of getting this job done without giving people a path to citizenship. Legal status is not something that someone should have to remain in unless they want to. And to say that you can have legal status, but you can’t have ever a path to become a citizen of this country…offends fundamental principles of fairness in our society.”
He continued, “I know that that opposition is there. I don’t think it’s valid. And I don’t think it’s held even by a majority of Republicans — certainly not in the Senate.”
Which prompted Greg Sargent at the Washington Post to note that McCain had effectively thrown down the gauntlet. Immigration reform without citizenship will not garner Senate support. If House Republicans suggest it, it’s tantamount to killing the bill. And House Republicans will be punished for that:
There you have it: McCain is effectively putting this all on House Republicans. If they can’t pass reform with citizenship, and this whole effort fails, it’s on them…
McCain made things pretty clear this morning: There are only two paths forward. The first is immigration reform with a path to citizenship. The second is failure. And that second option — in which far right members of the House end up killing reform — is the absolute worst possible outcome for Republican efforts to repair relations with Latinos.
The only way reform happens is if House Republicans cross the citizenship Rubicon and accept the consequences.
What happens if Republicans kill immigration reform and don’t manage to repair their relationship with Latino voters, by the way? For one thing, Texas will turn blue (as Brent Budowsky argued in a post at the Hill today), and then Republicans can kiss their status as a national party goodbye…