After Health Care, Is Immigration Next?

Here's what the battle might look like

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With most observers expecting health care reform to finally pass once and for all this weekend, what will be Democrats' next big issue? Many signs point to financial regulatory reform: Senator Chris Dodd has put forward an ambitious plan and President Obama has made "reining in Wall Street" a recent goal. The campaign-friendly issue, conducive to a populist tone, would coincide nicely with the November 2010 elections. But Obama and Democrats long hinted that, with health care the top issue of 2009, immigration reform would reign in 2010. Is that still true? Here's what people think of the prospects.

  • Seems Unlikely, But Senate Making Moves  NBC News' Chuck Todd is as skeptical as anyone, but he points out that Senators Graham and Schumer are pushing immigration reform anyway. "Lots of skepticism in DC that immigration reform will be truly taken up this year; nonetheless, key moves yesterday."
Our plan has four pillars: requiring biometric Social Security cards to ensure that illegal workers cannot get jobs; fulfilling and strengthening our commitments on border security and interior enforcement; creating a process for admitting temporary workers; and implementing a tough but fair path to legalization for those already here.
  • Immigration's Tough Timeline  The Washington Post's Spencer Hsu scopes out the proposal's reception, including generalized support from Obama. "Advocates set an April deadline, but that would require additional Republican support," he writes. "Congressional supporters, whose ideas track those proposals, have labored under a self-imposed deadline, hoping to advance a bill to the Senate floor before Memorial Day. Lawmakers do not want to hold a contentious debate over immigration policies close to fall elections at a time of high unemployment."
  • Securing Real Reform  Lambasting the Schumer-Graham plan, The American Prospect's Gabriel Arana gives the reform requirements likely to become sacrosanct on the left: Update the "grossly unfair" by-country quota system, allow more green cards for unskilled labor, build "family unification" policies, and increase funding to key immigration agencies.
  • Dems Should Champion Immigration  The Nation's Kai Wright makes the case. "The long-term politics are plain: Latino communities nationwide are young, growing and increasingly ready to show up at the polls. And the certain-to-be xenophobic reaction of the GOP's loudest voices today will not only motive Latinos this November, it will alienate independent voters as well." After alienating the liberal base on national security and other issues, "Obama and the Dems could surely use at least one motivated voting bloc this fall."
  • Is There 'Centrist' Immigration Reform?  The Crossed Pond says that because of "Democrats trying to prove to the center that they understand 'tough on illegal' concerns, it will likely have to be done in a very 'centrist' way. Which means that a lot of bones have to be thrown to anti-immigration fervents." The challenge for Dems will be making centrist concessions while courting the often-skeptical Latino voting blocks in the midwest and southwest.
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