As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Immigration Reform This Year?

Not that Senate and House schedules aren't made to be broken, but that's certainly interesting.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters Thursday that he would like the Senate to pass comprehensive immigration reform this year, adding another huge project to Democrats' already packed schedule for 2009.

“As far as I’m concerned, we have three major issues we have to do this year, if at all possible: No. 1 is healthcare; No 2 is energy, global warming; No. 3 is immigration reform,” Reid said.

“It’s going to happen this session, but I want it this year, if at all possible.”

Reid met Thursday with leaders of Hispanic groups including the National Council of La Raza and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. He and those leaders promoted the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court at a press conference.

Reid stressed that he does not want to pass immigration “piecemeal” but, instead, as a comprehensive package.

We haven't heard a lot about this since the recession hit, but perhaps this recent poll has led Democrats to be bolder on the issue. It shows overwhelming support for immigration reform legislation, 64-21. And after comprehensive immigration reform is explained, it goes up to 86-14.

There are also political considerations. The Sotomayor nomination has turned off conservatives even more to the Republican Party. Getting immigration reform done under a Democratic Administration would put another nail in that coffin. Not to mention adding millions of new potential voters down the road. Plus, there's Harry Reid' re-election chances. Nevada Hispanics are 23% of the population. Perversely, that data point may move Reid toward the more progressive solution, so prove to the folks back home his sensitivity to the issue.

But aside from this, comprehensive immigration reform is the right thing to do. We should bring millions of residents out of the shadows and into the greater economy, where they can help produce and pay US taxes. Morally speaking, we should not keep people hidden in the underground economy. Practically, this is the only way to deal with the problem. We're not deporting 11 million people any time soon, and given how vital they are to the smooth functioning of the US economy, we would be cutting off our nose to spite our face.

Obviously this will be a long slog - conservatives would love to rile up their anti-immigrant base. But as we've seen with Sotomayor, they commit electoral suicide with every utterance. Let's get this done.

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