The LA Times reports that Obama plans push for immigration reform.
Remember the conversation about the huge voter data base that is so attractive to those thinking ahead to 2014 and 2016? Politico wrote:
Instead, Obamaworld – in an effort similar to the post-2008 campaign period – is attempting to leverage its campaign data to generate support for legislative initiatives.
Immigration reform is surely such an initiative, just as it’s one of the key areas in what is often termed “extremism” from the “Tea Party” branch of the Republicans.
From the LA Times:
As soon as the confrontation over fiscal policy winds down, the Obama administration will begin an all-out drive for comprehensive immigration reform, including seeking a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, according to officials briefed on the plans.
While key tactical decisions are still being made, President Obama wants a catch-all bill that would also bolster border security measures, ratchet up penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants, and make it easier to bring in foreign workers under special visas, among other elements.
Senior White House advisors plan to launch a social media blitz in January, and expect to tap the same organizations and unions that helped get a record number of Latino voters to reelect the president.
The report says that “cabinet secretaries” are building a case to show how immigration changes would be good for “businesses, education, healthcare and public safety.”
Democratic strategists believe there is only a narrow window at the beginning of the year to get an initiative launched in Congress, before lawmakers begin to turn their attention to the next election cycle and are less likely to take a risky vote on a controversial bill.
Congressional members are already meeting, with a “bipartisan group of six senators,” getting together “behind closed doors in the Capitol for 30 minutes on Tuesday night.”
Republican were John McCain (AZ), Jeff Flake (AZ) and Lindsey Graham (SC). Democrats attending: Charles Schumer (NY ), Robert Menendez (NJ) and Richard J. Durbin (IL).
Not all Republicans agree with the approach, “including some who are in favor of immigration change,” but want a “go-slow approach” and a “series of bills. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is one of those.
Simultaneous with reporting about these plans are those which show the push coming at the administration. From The Hill, Hispanic Democrat says Obama is missing in action on immigration:
A prominent Hispanic Democrat from Illinois is calling out President Obama for not playing a more active role in the immigration reform talks that have begun in Congress.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who campaigned for the president in swing states with large populations of Latino voters, said Obama is missing in action from the discussions that are taking place on Capitol Hill. …
‘When senators from both parties and members of the House are talking, when you have the Senate majority leader and Speaker Boehner both saying that this is an important priority. Who’s the one missing? The president.
‘He’s saying good things. He needs to be an actor,’ said Gutierrez, referring to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
Others, as the LA Times’ report includes, take a different view:
Some lawmakers prefer that the White House not dictate the terms of the bill and leave the hard negotiations to an informal group with representatives from both parties as a way to avoid a contentious ideological fight in the committees, said two congressional staffers who were not authorized to speak publicly about the discussions.
At Think Progress, Igor Volsky reminds us:
During the presidential campaign, Obama identified the lack of immigration reform as his ‘biggest failure,’ (in) a Univision ‘Meet The Candidates’ forum in September. …
Since Obama won 72 percent of the Hispanic vote in the November election, a growing number of Republicans have … softened their opposition to comprehensive immigration reform.
Last month, the House GOP advanced a bill that would add visas for highly skilled workers while reducing legal immigration overall.
All of this happening as the Pew Hispanic Center reports that “illegal immigration is down and enforcement levels are at an all-time high.” Remember, President Obama has been widely criticized by those working in the immigration issues area as the administration with higher deportation rate than under George. W. Bush.
From Immigration Solidarity:
… Obama’s re-election means we need to hold the president accountable for the change we want to see.
(Immigration Solidarity Logo via Immigration Solidarity)