Thune takes friendly fire

The Wall Street Journal editorial page is usually friendly territory for conservative Republicans.

Unless it’s on an issue that splits the GOP. One of those issues is immigration.

As a pro-business newspaper, the Journal obviously sees the benefits of a more open immigration process. And today’s lead editorial singles out Sens. John Thune and Iowa’s Chuck Grassley for introducing amendments to the Senate immigration bill currently under debate. The amendments tried to delay giving legal status to an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants until certain enforcement triggers had been met on securing the border. In Thune’s case, he wanted 700 miles of fence on the border.

Recall, Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu impressed the country with her geography skills when she called Thune’s idea a “dumb fence” while lecturing on how South Dakota borders Canada. Now the Journal takes aim from the right.

The editorial says the border today has never been more secure, with 21,000 agents on patrol, along with 650 miles of fence, military aircraft, boats, drones and various cameras.

The Gang of Eight bill, meanwhile, would add another $4.5 billion for border control and add enforcement measures to find people who overstay their visas. The editorial concludes that Thune and Grassley are among those trying to find excuses to kill the bill.

The real game here is to kill a bill that would create a more pro-growth and humane immigration system for America and the millions already here or in line to come. If the right succeeds in blowing all this up, one wonders what comes next? Perhaps Republicans can campaign in 2014 on self-deporting the 11 million illegals who are here now. That worked so well for Mitt Romney.

Perhaps the Journal is looking at the wrong election. Think 2016. If you’re running for the Republican nomination, Thune’s position is probably more popular among Republican activists than the position of a newspaper called The Wall Street Journal.