Path to citizenship, DREAM Act, guest worker provisions -- all of these pale in comparison as far as controversy when it comes to giving illegals who achieve residency status under the immigration reform bill access to federal health benefits under Obamacare.
Put simply, there is no moral justification for it. But Senate Dems -- and president Obama -- will try to achieve this goal in the upcoming immigration reform debate.
The Senate's bipartisan immigration working group split along party lines during a contentious budget vote to prevent illegal immigrants who receive legal status from receiving federal health benefits.
The Senate early Saturday morning defeated the amendment to the budget resolution which would have put the Senate on record as opposing access to health care under Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act for undocumented immigrants who get a green card.
The amendment, which failed 43 to 56, was offered by Senate Budget ranking member Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.
All Democrats -- including gang members Dick Durbin of Illinois, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Charles E. Schumer of New York and Michael Bennet of Colorado -- opposed the amendment. They were joined by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. All other Republicans -- including immigration negotiators Marco Rubio of Florida, John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Flake of Arizona -- supported the amendment.
The gang of eight has been negotiating a comprehensive immigration reform package that they hope to unveil when the Senate returns the week of April 8 from spring recess.
Sessions contended the vote bodes poorly for the state of negotiations.
"The result of today's vote places immigration reform in jeopardy," Sessions said.
Immigration reform advocates, including National Council of La Raza, said Friday they would be monitoring what they contend to be any anti-immigrant votes and put members of both parties on notice that their votes would be remembered come election day.
During debate, Sessions argued that illegal immigrants who are given legal status in the future should not be eligible for these health care benefits.
"If a person is in our country illegally and they are rewarded with some legal status, do they then immediately become eligible for federal health care benefits," Sessions said. "It's a different situation than someone who came legally and has got legal status."
The Democrats are denying that they want to grant illegals access to Obamacare, but if that's true, why did they vote against Sessions' amendment? The fact is, they want to keep their options open and please La Raza at the same time. That makes including illegals in Obamacare a distinct possibility.
It almost certainly wouldn't pass the House. But if the Dems gain control in 2014, nothing would prevent them from revisiting the issue.
Granting illegal immigrants an entry into federal health care benefits would be ruinously expensive, not to mention, a political disaster for the GOP. It should be a redline for all Republicans.