May 16, 2011

Need for Serious and Comprehensive Immigration Reform But it Won't be Possible Before 2013

President Obama gave a speech recently about the need to reform the immigration system, but I think it was mostly political theater. I'm sure he knows that the Republican-controlled House will not agree to give such a policy initiative to the president. Even when the Dems were in control, they couldn't pass any immigration reform despite former president Bush supporting it.

Senator Durbin re-introduced the DREAM Act but even this very sensible improvement of a tiny part of immigration law won't probably go through. The Republican Party today is much more conservative and is catering to the extremist elements within (Southern states) and in its proximity (Tea parties). As a salt lake shrinks, the water becomes more saline, so it's the same with the shrinking base of the Conservatives. Don't be fooled by the last election gains of the GOP. It had to do with other factors than rising popularity for the GOP, and, most importantly, its policy proposals.

See where the country is today and where it's moving. What was radical just a generation ago, it's mainstream today: DOMA, DADT, same-sex marriage, Immigration (yes, over 70% of Americans favor Obama's ideas on immigration reform), legalization of marijuana, etc, etc. Unfortunately, the second largest political party in the US is hostage to its conservative base and its extreme activists and won't move where the rest of the country is moving.

As for the political theater, it will go on. Obama has been criticized by the pro-reform groups for not doing enough, and support from the Hispanic community is eroding. He'll use the immigration rhetoric to bring attention to the fact that it's the Republicans who don't want reform, but not much else will happen before 2013, when the new Congress will be in place.