[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]
You know, you gotta figure that if every Republican and all the Villagers are in agreement that taking up immigration reform is a bad idea for Democrats, then -- reverse barometers being the valuable tools they are -- there's high likelihood that it's a good idea.
We'll find out soon enough, because Democrats are proceeding apace anyway -- and doing so in the face of the near-certainty of uniform opposition from the GOP:
One Democratic aide close to the issue noted that in the wake of Graham’s abandoning negotiations, Schumer is continuing to meet with a handful of Senate Republican lawmakers — Scott Brown (Mass.), George LeMieux (Fla.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Judd Gregg (N.H.) and Dick Lugar (Ind.) — and that the summary is part of a dual-track alternative for moving forward.We're hearing that a press conference announcing the bill is scheduled for 5:45 p.m. EDT in D.C. today. We'll keep it covered.
According to this aide, under the new alternative, if Republicans continue to reject bipartisan overtures, Reid, Schumer and Menendez would look to have a handful of other top Democrats co-sponsor the legislation, including Durbin and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the second ranking member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security.
Menendez said his preference would be to have Republican support, but that it was more important to have a framework that can be publicly distributed so that Senators “can begin the debate and move the process forward.” Menendez said he was still optimistic that the chamber could pass a bill this year, even though no Republicans have indicated they might support a bill.
“If we put our effort to it, and we have presidential leadership and we have Republicans who truly want to see immigration reform versus just talk about it, I think it’s possible,” Menendez said.
Senate Democrats’ decision to move forward on their own drew applause from Hispanic lawmakers in the House, who have seized on Arizona’s tough new state immigration law to ramp up the pressure for the Senate to act on a comprehensive bill this year.
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) described the proposal Senate Democrats floated Wednesday as a “responsible bill that basically reflects the principles that were discussed with Lindsey Graham.”
“It is the kind of bill that could be supported by any Republican who truly believes that the broken system should be fixed,” Velázquez said. “So it is time to stop playing politics with this issue and do the work the American people sent us to do here.”
The NYT's Helene Cooper reports that President Obama is pointing out that passing a bill is going to be difficult in the current environment. No doubt that's true -- and one hopes he is merely observing a truism rather than backing off his earlier powerful remarks pushing for immigration reform. As we observed then:
The Arizona craziness is a good example of why we can't let comprehensive immigration reform wait.
We know that lots of Democrats, especially the Blue Dogs, want to put immigration reform on the back burner till after the 2010 election. After all, it's the kind of issue that defines them: Blue Dogs always pander to conservatives on key issues, because they think that wins them more votes in the end than standing up for core principles.
In this case, as we saw from the 2008 election results, it's also nonsensical:
It's also apparent, from these results and from polling, that the nativists' "deport them all" immigration policy is wildly unpopular -- and that, moreover, Americans in fact take a pragmatic view of immigration: They're not interested in shipping out illegal immigrants, they're interested in seeing them become legal citizens.The evidence is that voters get behind progressives who talk straight common sense on immigration -- as opposed to the fearmongering and scapegoating inherent in the Arizona Republican approach, which inevitably leads to the institution of a police state and the destruction of families.
It's also looking like Harry Reid will be pushing immigration reform as well. And there are many more reasons than fearful Blue Dogs why it's a politically smart move, too. Just ask those 200,000 people who gathered in D.C. last month.