Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a Gang of 8 member, held a media call today on the progress of the amendments and the prospect for passage of immigration control. He confirmed that the Corker-Hoeven amendment would offer “substantial” improvement on the border security elements that will include minimum requirements for specific border security action. He said that “some minor issues” are being ironed out by staff.
Via e-mail, I submitted questions that Flake answered during the call. This is a rough transcript:
Q: Why is immigration reform conservative?
A: Well, conservatives believe in the rule of law, and we need to have a system that we can enforce and that we can bring people out of the shadows and once again have respect for the rule of law. I think most of us as conservatives recognize that as long as you have 11 million people in the shadows without a reasonable prospect of deportation or self-deportation, most of us don’t believe that that will actually occur, and then you’ve got to get back to the rule of law. Secondly, conservatives believe in markets, and that we ought to be able to have a freer flow of labor, and this will allow for that, because it has a robust guest worker plan, in particular with the high tech visas and skilled visas. Three, conservatives have been concerned about chain migration for a long time. This actually, although there are some elements of family reunification still in it, takes a visa lottery and gets rid of that and also transforms a lot of the expanded family visas and it takes those and instead converts those to skill and education-based visas. That’s conservative. And then conservatives have long felt, as well, that we need better border security for national security and this definitely does that, so I think it’s a conservative bill. I’m proud of it for that.
Q: On the amendment that we’re talking about, the Corker-Hoeven amendment, has anybody determined if Chuck Schumer is going to block that, or if there’s any concern about Democrats blocking it, or do you think that’s more or less something that has been signed off on?
A: We’ve met. There is agreement that there will be support on the Democratic side for this amendment.
If his take is accurate, and his assessment that a “significant” number of Republicans will join the amendment and/or co-sponsor the amendment, then it is possible to get 70 votes total in the Senate. Interestingly, he said that the pushback from the base is far less in 2013 than it was in 2007, although he conceded some Republicans are adamantly opposed to legalizing anyone. He said that the amendment “will quell a lot of the concern, the skepticism, but I don’t think it will satisfy everyone.”
In sum, the moment of truth is near, and if Flake is accurate, the outcome may be positive for immigration reformers.