LatinaLista — News that Senators Reid, Schumer and Menendez would be releasing an outline today of an immigration reform proposal surprised many who had heard Sen. Reid repeatedly say that he couldn’t slate immigration reform on the senatorial docket because there was no bill.
A quick scan of what is now being referred to as the ”
Reid-Schumer-Menendez” bill shows a heavy Republican influence, courtesy probably of Sen. Lindsay Graham, who was working on the reform measure with Schumer but has now decided he doesn’t want to cooperate.
In speculating over the debut of this bill, at this time, it’s pretty clear on page 4 what triggered this rapid response from Democratic Senate leaders:
…Because the federal government will have fulfilled its obligation to secure America’s borders, states and municipalities will be prohibited from enacting their own rules and penalties relating to immigration, which could undermine federal policies.
This bill definitely illustrates that Washington heard the outrage levied against Arizona for passing SB1070 and the threats and demands from immigrant advocacy and Latino groups across the country.
On the surface, this draft would seem — though far, far from perfect or complete — to be an honest attempt to begin addressing an issue that has served as the basis for campaigning politicians in securing Latino votes.
Yet, many political pundits are saying tonight that this is nothing more than a political ploy by Democrats who know that they don’t have the votes, even among their own party, to pass immigration reform.
Pundits say Democrats will try and when it’s seen that the votes aren’t there will say, “We tried!” and be done with it.
Even President Obama has prepared the Latino community for this scenario:
“It’s a matter of political will,” Obama said during a rare visit to the press section of his presidential plane. He added, “This is a difficult issue. It generates a lot of emotions. . . . I need some help on the Republican side.
“We’ve gone through a tough year, and I’ve been working Congress pretty hard,” the president said. “So I know there may not be an appetite immediately to dive into another controversial issue.”
Regardless of the motivation for the timing of presenting this draft, the scenario pundits present is a real possibility. So, how will the Latino community know if this gesture was nothing more than a means to pacify an increasingly agitated demographic outraged that their fellow Latino and Latina citizen hermanos and hermanas would have their Constitutional rights violated under SB 1070?
Simple — how hard Democrats fight for immigration reform.
Right now, Democratic leaders are issuing press releases applauding the bill released today and assuring the public that they will work on passing it.
Washington, DC – DNC Chairman Tim Kaine issued the following statement on the immigration reform proposal announced today in the Senate:
“I want to thank Senate Majority Leader Reid and Democrats in Congress for taking this step towards much-needed federal immigration reform.
Folks from both sides of the aisle agree that we cannot wait: we must pass comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level, rather than leave a broken immigration system that is not serving our country well. Democrats have taken that charge seriously and are tackling the problem head-on, working to achieve solutions to the difficult immigration issues facing our country, and this proposal is a good step forward.
“As the President has said, America has always been a nation of immigrants – we draw fresh inspiration and fresh energy from each generation of newcomers. But we are also a nation of laws.
That is why we must pass comprehensive immigration reform that emphasizes responsibility and accountability – that secures our border, penalizes employers who hire illegal immigrants, puts a system in place to bring immigrants within the law before they get in line for citizenship, and establishes clear guidelines for the future.
President Obama has made it clear that he supports such reforms, and that his Administration will work closely with legislators to develop a final bill. I hope that Congressional Republicans will join with the President and Democrats in Congress in seriously pursuing final bipartisan legislation that reflects those goals.”
However, the bill still needs a lot of work. This draft doesn’t address family reunification, DREAM Act students, unaccompanied minors caught in detention, etc.
In appearing on CNN’s John King’s show tonight, Sen. Menendez said he hopes that President Obama calls a bipartisan summit to bring both sides together to talk about immigration reform.
Given the past performances of GOP politicians at Obama-led summits, there’s no hope that progress will be made since the GOP has been very clear that this is an issue that doesn’t appeal to them unless it’s draconian in nature.
So, that leaves the Democrats as the last and only hope for an issue where the stakes have been raised to the point where saying “We tried” just won’t cut it.