Reihan Salam points to some of the budgetary and political problems related to denying food and health care subsidies to those who would be getting amnesty. You will have millions of people (many very poor and in mixed-status families). These people will be connected to their communities and care for them will disproportionately hit local governments. So if a Gang of Eight-style bill passes, Democrats will be in the position of trying to extend benefits to those receiving amnesty while Republicans will likely try delay benefit eligibility for as long as possible.
The Republican National Committee’s autopsy complained that immigrant communities found the GOP “unwelcoming.” The RNC suggested comprehensive immigration reform as the cure to what ails the unwelcoming GOP. The problem is that the structure of the Gang of Eight bill and the unstable compromise on benefits creates a whole new “welcoming” gap between the parties. Once again, the Republicans would be treating those getting amnesty as units of labor rather than prospective citizens. If you or your kids get sick then, oh well.
The Republicans would do better to follow public opinion. They should be for mandating (and not at the Homeland Security Secretary’s “discretion”) border and (especially ) internal enforcement, and then move to integrate those who would get amnesty into American society as quickly and as completely as possible. There is no contradiction between being serious about enforcement and being welcoming. The pro-Gang of Eight Republicans have now contrived to be unserious about enforcement and unwelcoming to those who would get amnesty.
So, if a Gang of Eight-style bill passes, we will get political trench warfare in which the Democrats will treat those who get amnesty as future citizens of a social democratic America and Republicans will treat them as bipedal automatons for benefit of the entrepreneurs who “built that.” Which is more welcoming? Then future Republican nominees can complain about voting blocs who are won over by “gifts” from Democrats. Republicans would be more welcoming (and more in line with public opinion) if they adopted a pro-enforcement, pro-working-class, and pro-immigrant agenda.