Revisiting Immigration Reform

Several events in recent days have thrust immigration reform back onto the national stage. The first was a statement by Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid that he wanted to move an immigration bill this year.  The second was the reported progress Arizona has made towards the passage of a bill which would allow Sheriff Joe Arpaio and other law enforcement agents to detain people if they had probable cause to believe the person was "illegal." Despite a very crowded national agenda, the issue of immigration reform keeps coming back, as NDN predicted it would.  For the immigration system is terribly broken, and its failures are very present in communities across the country each and every day.  There is no way to sweep it under the proverbial rug.

As someone who has worked long and hard on the immigration issue in recent years, I am optimistic that the President and Congress will come together, soon, to fix our broken immigration system.  The final bill will be some version of the very well constructed and thoughtful McCain-Kennedy bill which passed a Republican Senate in 2006, regularly garners majority support in national polls, and has a broad and deep bi-partisan coalition working for its passage. Senators Schumer and Graham have offered up a vision for how to move forward.  The White House is doing a great deal behind the scenes.  Secretary Napolitano is engaged and has spent a lot of time working to bring people together.  I feel like a great deal of what needed to get done has gotten done these past 15 months.  Progress has been made.

What I am not certain of is whether Congress and the President - given all the time the health care debate chewed up, and the continued reluctance of the GOP to work with the White House on this and many other issues - can move immigration reform through Congress this year.  I hope they will, of course, but am also aware that this is a tough issue in this town these days. Conditions must be right for a bill like this to move, or we risk another spirted but failed effort like in 2007.  And that would be devastating.

I will be returning to this issue in the days ahead.  In the mean time I offer up a series which makes our case work for why we believe Congress and the President should pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform:

Making the Case:7 Reasons Why Congress Should Pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform This Year.  April 30, 2009.  This op-ed ran on the front page of the Huffington Post for almost 24 hours. 

Making The Case: Powerpoint Version.  February, 2009, revised June, 2009.  A powerpoint version of the Huffington Post Op-Ed. Contains links to key polling data and other additional resources.

Making The Case: The Video.  Video of me delivering the power point presentation. February, 2009. 

We will be updating this material over the next few weeks.  Please feel free to offer up ideas on how we can make it better, and feel free to share any other ideas you have about this critical national issue. I will be returning to it again soon.

Thanks all.


Good questions. 

The quest for reasonable Republicans to work with the Democrats on any issue in this Congress has been largely a futile one.  The GOP's general approach to all issues has been to say no, block, get angry, fire up their base.  Not sure at this point CIR can escape this larger political dynamic despite significant efforts by Schumer, Reid and others to find common ground with the GOP.  Of late, the GOP has been anything but a responsible partner with the Dems in solving the great challenges facing the country.

Remember that McConnell's own experience on this issue in 2007 is that he thought he could deliver enough of his conference to get to 60 but when the vote came a whole group of Republicans walked and the bill collapsed. 

I think given the existence of legislative language from 2006, 2007 the actual writing of the bill is not a big deal.  What future flow looks like, and what happens with the biometric ID Schumer is proposing are perhaps the biggest things to be worked out.  The politics and deal outline need to be brought into place first, and we are not there yet. But significant progress has been made. 

More to come no doubt.