For weeks now, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has been reiterating that for immigration reform to pass, tougher border security provisions must pass. To date he’s been talking quietly to his GOP colleagues but hasn’t yet announced a particular solution. That leaves immigration opponents flailing at a yet-to-be-determined border security measure.

Johnny Isakson
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

Talk show host Laura Ingraham is among the most emphatic opponents of comprehensive immigration reform, but yesterday she may have unintentionally given a boost to the reformers. Her guest Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) refused to rise to the bait to criticize Rubio and-or the Gang of Eight.

Isn’t it all a dance? Don’t you know how things are going down? Why is Chuck Schumer so giddy about the deal? Isakson wasn’t biting. He calmly recited the various components of the Gang of Eight plan and stressed the need for biometric devices to track and prevent employment of illegal immigrants. At one point he declared, “I think Marco has done a fantastic job of doing the best that the can. I think he’s probably feeling some of the heat from those that feel like it might not be good enough, particularly by not having the tighter biometrics on the identification. He’s worked hard at this. I don’t think it’s a theatrical game as far as he’s concerned. I think he’s trying to work a platform that can get border security but also put an end to the illegal problem in this country. So I give him credit for that.”

Hmm. That sounds like a man who might make a deal. It is that sort of public expression of willingness to make a deal rather than determination to scuttle one that is music to the ears of the Gang of Eight. It also gives an indication of what is going on in private sessions. Soliciting the input of skeptical but winnable Republicans is the best and may be the only strategy available to the Gang of Eight.

No, they won’t win over Republican Sens. Jeff Sessions (Ala.) or Ted Cruz (Tex.), who don’t want any legalization (and therefore can’t vote for anything that would actually pass). But if Republican senators like Isakson, John Cornyn (Tex.), Rob Portman (Ohio), and Pat Toomey (Pa.) — to name a few — can inject some muscle into the border security provisions, then the Gang of Eight might not only win in the Senate, but get a large majority that will generate momentum in the House.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.