Immigration Reform: Still In Play

In a new Newsweek piece on immigration Reform, Arian Campo-Flores writes: 

Given that much of last year was squandered on a health-care debate that has yet to produce an agreement, and given that Americans are clamoring for the administration to focus on jobs and the economy, immigration has fallen far down the priority list, for both the president and Congress. "I don't think there's been a diminution in the desire to do it," says Simon Rosenberg of NDN, which has also pressed for an overhaul. "But there's a greater recognition that the pipeline got backed up in 2009." The top two priorities now, he says, are a jobs bill and financial-services reform. "If those get done, and Washington is working better, then I think other things will be possible this year." Even, perhaps, immigration reform, though he says it may well get pushed to 2011.

As the New York Times reports this morning, there is a new legislative pipeline now.  If the White House and Congress can pass jobs and financial services reform bills quickly, then the basket of other issues waiting for consideration - immigration reform, energy/price on carbon, education reform, transportation, a DOHA treaty, even health care now - will get put into play.  A lot now depends on what happens with these two bills now, and for those wanting progress in these other areas a good plan would be to help get these other two bills passed, quickly. 

The President might consider bringing the Senate and House leadership in for an extended set of discussions next week on how best to get the differing approaches to these bills reconciled as soon as possible, and not leave it to the whims of the Committee process alone to help determine their fate.  That is perhaps the greatest lesson from 2009 - more centralized and cooperative management by the governing party is required for the President to get done all that he wants done in the coming years.

For those wanting to reform our badly broken immigration system do not lose heart.  The President and much of Congress want to get it done, and a lot of prep work has been done in 2009 to prepare for the fight when it comes.  For an issue like this timing is going to be key.   The White House and the Senate and House will have to work closely together, in a very coordinated way, to keep the immigration reform debate from spiraling out of control.   Decks will have to be clear, leaders aligned, confidence high.  I'm not sure we are there right now, but I also think that day is not all that far down the road.  We will need to keep the pressure on, keep making our case to more people, show both determination and patience, and as the President has said, never quit.