On Again: Immigration Reform Coming

Looks like comprehensive immigration reform is back on track to be rolled out this spring.  Roll Call has just said that Speaker Pelosi “would welcome an immigration bill this year” to the House.  Immigration reform has suddenly become so important that it has leap-frogged climate change as the next major bill in Congress

Pelosi met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) earlier this week and agreed that a “moral imperative” exists to move forward with a bill, even if it means scrapping energy legislation until the next Congress, aides said. Pelosi views a comprehensive effort to tackle climate change as the flagship issue of her speakership — a point that she made to reporters Thursday. But Reid appears to favor moving immigration first, and Pelosi, in her meeting with him, didn’t object.”

It seems clear that this shift in agenda setting is due to recent changes in the political winds.  Hispanics and immigrant rights activists, SEIU and civil libertarians everywhere  are gearing up for a major response come this Saturday to Arizona’s SB 1070, which is now sitting on Governor Brewer’s desk awaiting her signature or veto.   SB 1070 would pretty much require Latinos in the state to carry immigration/citizenship papers with them whenever they leave the house. It would “require” law enforcement to question anyone– almost anywhere- about their immigration status –upon a reasonable suspicion that they are unauthorized to be in the country–and to arrest that person if they fail to produce documents.  For decades in border regions, such reasonable suspicion has coincided with skin color, language spoken and surname.   By the way, SB 1070 has the support of about 70% Arizonans, which is why the governor who is running for re-lelection this year, is likely to sign it into law.

Next, Senator Harry Reid’s state of Nevada has a growing Hispanic population. Reid is losing in his re-election bid to a former tv personality who has just proposed replaced health reform with a chicken barter scheme.  get that tooth pulled for 2 chickens and some firewood!

Finally, as FDL reports, the Obama White house may have determined now is the time to wedge immigration between Latinos and the Republican party once and for all.

A couple things remain to be seen, however. First, is what CIR will look like at this time.  The routine for the past several months has been that liberal sounding reforms have made major compromises to the right before the legislative process even gets under way.  I fear some incredible bows towards the pro sovereignty criminalization wings of Congress. Next, even with such right wing compromises, I still do not see how the legislation– which in some form will regularize status for 12 million undocumented immigrants gets through or avoids filibuster. Along with SB 1070, the Arizona House just also passed a “Birther Bill” that requires candidates– ahem– the president to show “he is qualified” to be president next time he wants to get on the ballot in Arizona. Five other states are considering similar moves.

CIR will certainly bring some of these tensions to a head.


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