The January 31 Immigration Daily editorial has some well-justified harsh comments about the latest article by Sean Trende, a Republican political analyst who opposes immigration reform as bad, not as policy, but for the political chances of his party. The ID editorial calls Trende a "traitor" to his own party for trying to lead it down the path of exclusiveness by writing off the Hispanic vote, something that will doom its long term chances of remaining a national party.

Anyone reading Trende's article, On Immigration, What Are The Republicans Thinking? (Real Clear Politics, January 31) can only be appalled by its cynicism. There is nothing in it at all about doing what is best for America. Nor is there anything about the human cost of continuing mass deportations of millions of Latino and other minority immigrants, or the economic cost of turning away our best educated and most talented immigrants.

Trende is only concerned about appeasing the GOP's intolerant white base and avoiding what he sees as a potential civil war over immigration within his party that could cost it a potential "landslide" in 2014. I am not a Republican political analyst and I am not concerned with what Trende thinks will help his party win elections - even though I agree that writing off the Latino vote or hoping that there are "other" ways to attract Latino voters without supporting immigration reform is simply delusional.

But the most significant part of Trende's article is in his discussion of the (in his view, flawed) reasons why Republicans might be in favor of some sort of reform proposal.

In his fourth reason, This is a PR push Trende writes:

"Another option... is that this [supporting reform] is mostly a public relations push for Republicans. The idea would be that they would pass something with some sort of 'poison pill' in it that the Democrats wouldn't swallow. This would allow them [the Republicans] to push back on the 'Party of No' theme before the election. Moreover this would give them something to advertise for 2016 as the official position for 2017."

Much as I would hate to find myself in the same company with Sean Trende, I think that the above is an excellent and very accurate summary of the just-released Republican "Principles" on immigration reform. This is for reasons that I have written about in more detail in my own January 31 Immigration Daily "blogging", and in my comment to an article on this topic by two of the most incisive and respected writers on immigration to be found anywhere, Gary Endelman and Cyrus Mehta, in that same ID issue.

Trende continues, however, into territory that is so covered with cynicism that even I, with my own deep skepticism about the the Republicans' motives on immigration reform, have to struggle to follow him:

"I think this is getting close, and at least has an element of truth about it. But you still encounter the problem that Democrats might decide there's no such thing as a poison pill here, within reason, and figure that they can fix any issues with the immigration system further down the line and call Republicans' bluff by passing whatever comes out of the House."

Here, Trende gives away the Republicans' deepest fear: that no matter how outrageous their poison pills might be, immigration supporters might agree to them anyway and something associated with the word "reform" might actually pass and become law, causing the Republicans' right wing anti-immigrant base to sit out the 2014 election.

He also warns that if the Democrats agree to legalization without a pathway to citizenship, they will not only have succeeded in passing an immigration bill, but will have the Republicans' insistence on "second-class citizenship" to use as an election issue.

It is interesting to note here that the pro-reform side is not the only one that exaggerates the importance of citizenship issue. Trende is making the same mistake as many immigration supporters are doing.

As I have pointed out in my previous comments, the real issue in reform is not citizenship, but legalization, i.e. relief from deportation together with work permission, for 11 million people.

This is what the intolerant Republican base is denouncing as "amnesty". This is what killed reform in 2007 and stalled it in the House last year.

If the only thing holding up reform were disagreement over the "special" pathway to citizenship, we would most likely already have reform, because the Democrats have almost unanimously expressed their willingness to cave on this issue in order to get an agreement. (And Trende is also correct in pointing out that this could be fixed later on by a Democratic majority in Congress.)

But Trende has not given his fellow Republicans enough "credit" for their ingenuity in coming up with immigration poison pills. True, a poison pill on citizenship would probably not be enough to derail reform. But this is far from being the only poison pill implied in the House Republican "Principles" and in recent statements by leaders such as Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Paul Ryan (R-WI).

There are three even more devastating poison pills in the House Republicans' proposals: 1) overturning Arizona v. US by giving back bigoted state and local legislatures and officials power over immigration enforcement which the Supreme Court took away in 2012; 2) taking away the president's executive power to grant relief from deportation, which the Supreme Court also recognized and re-affirmed in the Arizona decision; and, 3) making legalization conditional on impossible to achieve enforcement "triggers" and financial requirements by the legalization applicants themselves.

Even if, unbelievably, immigration supporters were to agree to all of these House GOP poison pills, the history of immigration reform negotiations over the past year shows that, almost inevitably, there would be others. I have written about this in my recent comment about the moving Republican immigration reform goalposts.

Sean Trende, don't worry. The House GOP leaders are ahead of you on this one. They appear determined to make sure that there will always be enough poison pills to stop immigration reform from becoming law, no matter how much the pro-immigrant side is willing to give in.