There is some disagreement over whether the four-state commission proposed to certify border security in the Gang of Eight’s immigration package will be “advisory.” I vote for “delusional.” (More)

Humans have wasted a lot of time, effort, and money trying to keep squirrels out of bird feeders. You’ve tried baffles, moats, slippery tip rods, and lots of other clever failures. I’m not complaining. We squirrels like to solve puzzles, and you humans invent them for us. But please don’t kid yourselves. If you put out food we like, we’ll find a way to get it.

This makes me wary of the bipartisan immigration reform package introduced by eight senators yesterday. The package includes a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented workers currently in the U.S. But that path won’t be easy:

Under the plan, undocumented immigrants would receive a probationary status if they pass a criminal background check, pay a fine, and pay any back taxes owed to the government. After that, they’d have to wait to apply for permanent residency – a prerequisite to citizenship – until after a series of border security measures go into effect.

None of the new border measures, which will be overseen by a commission of southwestern state officials and community leaders, appear too difficult to implement at first glance (although there are concerns as to how much power conservative state politicians would wield in the process).

There are 34 U.S. states with coastlines or land borders: Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. But in terms of immigration reform, the Gang of Eight decided, only those last four matter:

We recognize that Americans living along the Southwest border are key to recognizing and understanding when the border is truly secure. Our legislation will create a commission comprised of governors, attorneys general, and community leaders living along the Southwest border to monitor the progress of securing our border and to make a recommendation regarding when the bill’s security measures outlined in the legislation are completed.

Why would only those four states be “key to recognizing and understanding when the border is truly secure?” Hrmm. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest it’s because they share a border with Mexico … where dark-skinned people live.

As it happens, our border with Mexico is more secure than ever before, and net migration across that border is already zero. Indeed it may be less than zero, meaning more people are leaving for than arriving from Mexico. Regardless, the Gang of Eight’s proposal calls for more Border Patrol agents, more fencing, more ground sensors, and more unmanned reconnaissance aircraft flying along the border.

The problem, simply, is that Republicans ignore the net-zero-or-lower migration and latch onto any news item that seems to prove our Mexican border is still open … because they don’t believe Hispanic immigrants are or will ever be Real Americans™:

Isn’t Mexico special? Other immigrants had to cross oceans and cut ties to get here–and many still do. But half of our new unauthorized immigrants come from a single country a day’s drive away–a nation with a not-implausible claim to much of our Southwestern territory. The “border” may mean something else to them than it does to us, or to other immigrants. Everywhere else in the world this is a recipe for turmoil. Why are we immune?

Never mind that second- and third-generation Hispanics are indistinguishable from other Americans in terms of English fluency, education, or job profiles. Never mind that La Raza said the right-wing talk about a reconquista of formerly Mexican territory is “so far outside the mainstream of the Latino community that we find it incredible that our critics raise it as an issue.” Conservative beliefs about Hispanics are driven by news stories, and those stories almost never explore Hispanic-Americans’ actual lives.

As the Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent wrote yesterday, this four-state commission may be merely advisory. I hope so, because if it’s not I have a pretty good guess what will happen. Republicans in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California will stage the Fear Olympics, with competing horror stories to ‘prove’ our border is broken, and increasingly expensive, draconian proposals they’ll claim are the only ways to fix it.

We got a preview of their border security ideas during the 2012 GOP primary race, so I’ll propose a motto for their Fear Olympics: Higher, Deeper, Alligatorier.

Good day and good nuts.