Asked Wednesday evening by CNN's Wolf Blitzer about a "pathway to legal status" (6:31 on video below), Republican Senator Jim Lankford of Oklahoma responded "I would never support something that leads to citizenship."
Of course he wouldn't and most Republicans, including President Trump, wouldn't either. It now appears that the reports early Tuesday that the President would propose that evening a sort of legalization of illegal immigrants was- shocking though it was coming from Trump- a lie. Sara Murray of CNN stated Wednesday
Let's just change gears entirely and talk about the bait and switch that the president pulled when it came to immigration yesterday. He had this meeting with the anchors, he talked about a path to legal status. Basically they fed up things that they thought these anchors would like, that they thought would give them positive press coverage for the next few hours. A senior administration official admitted that it was a misdirection play. And you will note that when the president was actually out there speaking to the American public, he didn't talk about a path to legal status. He talk about reforming the legal immigration system so it's merit-based. That means fewer low-skilled workers, fewer people coming on family ties, more people coming on high-skilled visas. That is still closer to a Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon framework of the world than Gang of Eight, who pushed comprehensive immigration reform.
The biggest problem of immigration is people overstaying their visas, which makes Trump's avoidance of the issue completely understandable. Still, we all owe the President our gratitude for avoiding- at least on Tuesday- a plan which would provide for legal status for otherwise illegal immigrants.
A Republican Congress, and this Republican President, will never accept a path to citizenship. Whatever the differences between GOP politicos and their popular base on trade and- well, on trade, anyway- there is very little difference on immigration. Both want less immigration. They are very wary of granting social services to illegal immigrants and they are frightened immigrants would get the right to vote. A path to citizenship is a means to benefits and to voting, and they will have none of it.
Lankford told Blitzer "I think there is something very special, very special about American citizenship." But living among American citizens without citizenship is even more special. It means living as something less than a second-class citizen. It means being exploited at, probably substandard wages, without the opportunity ever to become an American. Tha is a prescription for civil unrest or at least sporadic attacks by individuals who are singled out for not having the opportunity at that "very special" status.
It would be that, and worse. For as Nancy Pelosi remarked, that option would be"not even second-class citizenship because it isn't citizenship, it's just not respoectful, and not worthy of our country."