“Touchback”

Ed Kilgore comments on the latest developments in the immigration bill:

The latest developent in the long, painful saga of the Senate’s consideration of immigration legislation is the decision by Republican backers of the bill (presumably with White House support and at least grudging acceptance from some Democrats) to sponsor an amendment expanding the “touchback” requirement for illegal immigrants who want a “guest worker” visa. In the original “grand bargain,” illegals would only have to go home to their country of origin when their visa expired, or in order to apply for permanent legal status (i.e., to get on the “path to citizenship”). Under the amendment, they’d have to go home to apply for the guest worker visa.

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Not only is this a bad provision, but it’s a really inept metaphor. A “touchback” is when you get tackled in your end zone in football. What they seem to have in mind here is something akin to “tagging up” in baseball after a fly ball is caught. In that scenario you have to go back to the base you came from, touch the bag, and then you can run to the next one.