New York Democratic senator Chuck Schumer, an author of the Senate immigration bill, may have succeeded in helping Republicans kill his own bill.
On Meet the Press Sunday, Schumer said that Republicans "don't trust the president to enforce the law, particularly the enforcement parts." So, he explained, "There's a simple solution. Let’s enact the law this year, but simply not let it actually start ‘til 2017 after President Obama’s term is over. But you could actually have the law start in 2017 without doing much violence to it. You'd simply move the date back from December, 31 2011 to December 31, 2013, as to when the deadline for people who could get either legalization or citizenship [is], so we could go after the new people who come in later. And it would solve the problem. … You don't trust Obama? Enact the law now, put it into effect in 2017."
So even Schumer is willing to have no legislation go into effect until 2017. In other words, the main sponsor of the Senate immigration bill, who has previously pretended immigration reform is urgently important, is acknowledging that in fact there is no urgency to act.
But if nothing needs to go into effect until 2017, then Republicans have an even simpler solution: Do nothing. Don't enact legislation until 2017.
After all, why should Republicans pass a law now that won't take effect for three years? If Republicans win the presidency in 2016, then they'll have a chance to enact immigration legislation based on conservative principles. So it's better to wait until 2017—which is when Schumer is willing to put off implementation until anyway.
And Schumer can take solace in the fact that if Democrats win the presidency in 2016, the GOP will be reeling so badly from a third consecutive presidential defeat that the new Democratic president will be able to work his will on immigration. He'll be able to get the current legislation passed to take effect immediately. And if Schumer responds that it's important to set a legalization date now so as to (allegedly) deter further illegal entries, then Democrats could announce now that any legislation they enact in 2017 would have a legalization date of Dec. 31, 2013, as Schumer suggests.
So what's the Schumer case for acting now? He doesn't have one. And Republicans can cite Schumer: There’s no urgency for immigration legislation now. Following Schumer's own logic, Republicans can kill his bill.