Immigration plan faces deep skepticism (to say the least)
"On day one of our bill, the people without status who are not criminals or security risks will be able to live and work here legally."
With those words, Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer, who moments earlier had heaped effusive praise on Republican colleagues standing with him in the Senate press room, made it infinitely more difficult for many GOP lawmakers to sign on to the bipartisan immigration proposal put forward by the so-called Gang of Eight.
The problem is that giving instant legality -- it's now called "probationary legal status" -- clashes with the principle, deeply held among many conservatives and Republicans, that securing the border must come before creating a mechanism for legality and, ultimately, a path to citizenship for the roughly 11 million illegal immigrants already here.
Sen. John McCain, standing at Schumer's side, surely knows that. Back in 2007, as he ran for the Republican nomination for president, McCain ran into a torrent of opposition in the early caucus and primary states.
GOP voters didn't buy a "comprehensive" solution to illegal immigration. They wanted to see the border secured first. When a politician proposed to grant what critics called "amnesty," and also secure the border at the same time, the skeptics believed the "amnesty" would happen but the security would not.
"What I underestimated was the lack of trust and confidence in government," McCain said in November 2007. "I mean, I said time after time, 'We'll enforce the borders. We'll enforce the borders. Here's X billion dollars to do it. We'll enforce the borders.' They just didn't believe us." ...