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The clock is ticking, with July recess around the corner. Whither immigration reform?
President Obama drew a line of applause yesterday by giving a shout-out to the Phoenix Los Suns, but he failed to articulate any timeline or plan for passing comprehensive immigration reform this year. In fact, Obama has declared that Congress does not have the appetite for immigration reform and that the White House is in no rush to get things done this year.
The window for the passage of comprehensive immigration reform legislation this year is small, with no bill on the horizon. How did we get from the promise of CIR in 2009 to whither CIR in 2010?
- Stalling: Senator Schumer (D-NY) promised a bill by Labor Day last year, but never delivered his homework before going on a nine month leave. The health care debacle was used as an excuse to not tackle the issue even though it was ever-present, and immigrant communities have received the hint from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who recently declared that “we’re gonna do immigration reform just like we did health care reform.” No, thanks. Even with the new proposal, Senate Democrats are stalling on a legalization program, calling for secure borders before an established pathway to citizenship.
- Blaming: It is all about Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the new maverick of the GOP after the demise of Senator John McCain. One person in the Senate from the small Dixie state of South Carolina holds more power than the President of the United States and all of Congress over immigration reform and climate change legislation. The Senate Democratic leadership is so weak and non-existent that the entire Senate legislative calendar depends on Graham’s tantrums.
- Engagement Theatrics: House Democrats like Luis Gutierrez exist to keep Latino voters engaged with the Democratic party by introducing marker bills that go nowhere and getting arrested at protests. Harry Reid is up for re-election in a state that has a lot of Latino voters, so he needs to appear interested in immigration reform. But these are theatrics that have little political implication beyond giving people false hopes and keeping Democrats immune from criticism on the Left.
Where does this leave us for 2010? Another 300,000 people would be deported away from their families as ICE continues to wreck havoc in our workplaces and communities, another class of 70,000 immigrant youth would graduate from high schools with an unbearable present and their futures in jeopardy unless we pass the DREAM Act, and Latino voters are going to stay home on election day, delivering Democrats some losses at the polls.
Enjoy Happy Hour while it lasts.
Video Credit: MicEvHill