A bipartisan group of senators are expected to announce they have reached an agreement to strengthen border security in the Senate's immigration bill, a breakthrough that could pave the way for a significant number of GOP senators to support the comprehensive legislation.According to reporting by Greg Sargent, if this "surge" strategy pushes the bill across the line, comprehensive immigration reform advocates could live with it, because while it includes a massive increase in border security measures, it it doesn't create a trigger that could deny millions of undocumented Americans a path to citizenship:
Senate aides from both parties tell NBC News that the agreement would double the size of the border patrol and require 700 miles of border fencing. The group has also compromised on a series of other issues, including the E-Verify program for businesses and benefits.
The senators involved -- Republicans John Hoeven and Bob Corker, who have been working with Gang of 8 members Sens. Chuck Schumer, Bob Menendez, John McCain and Lindsey Graham -- have dubbed it the "border surge" plan; they're preparing a Thursday announcement.
Leading immigration advocate Frank Sharry, who was briefed on the emerging deal, tells me Dems successfully beat back Republican demands for inclusion of the 90 percent “hard trigger.” And so Sharry’s group, America’s Voice, can support the deal, albeit reluctantly.Of course, only time will tell if this will be enough to get the legislation out of the Senate, and if so, whether it will force the Republican House to take action, but branding it as a "surge" is genius, because if there's one thing that actually helps get Republicans to talk from the same page, it's boiling everything down to a single word—preferably a word that suggests military bravado and manly excess, all in a tiny little package.
“The deal is ridiculous from a policy point of view — it’s excessive and wasteful,” Sharry tells me. “But from a political point of view, if it brings 10 or 11 Senate Republican votes, we’ll probably will be able to live with it.” Sharry says this is because the current triggers in the emerging compromise are “doable and achievable.”
7:47 AM PT: To clarify, the proposal does create a "trigger"—but the trigger is the surge, not arbitrary, hard-to-measure, impossible-to-define statistical outcomes tied to the surge, like a 90 percent reduction in border insecurity. Effectively, passage and implementation of the bill would exercise the "surge" trigger.