The long running immigration debate this week moved formally to the floor of the U.S. Senate, where the “Gang of Eight” compromise bill figures to be tested and, it is to be hoped, approved.
Also being tested by this debate is whether this hyper-partisan Congress is capable of accomplishing anything. Immigration appears to be the one issue on which both parties have reason to pass something.
Alas, it’s not that simple, in part because so many members of the House are more concerned about primary challenges than about general elections and in part because it will take a super-majority 60 votes to get the bill through the Senate.
The fragile Gang of Eight bill is being attacked mainly from the right. The leading objection concerns border enforcement; the bill sets benchmarks that are to be met before the pathway to citizenship provisions kick in. Opponents say the standards are insufficiently strict; proponents argue that the proposed revision would be impossible to meet.
Should the enforcement provision be radically revised, the bill is not going to pass. Those Republicans concerned about how the ethnic demographic trend is going against them nationally should not allow that to happen.
If it does happen — if the hardliners stymie the legislation — they will have won the battle, but ultimately lose the war. The GOP cannot afford to thus reinforce the growing impression among Hispanics that it regards them as a loathsome presence in this country.