Pundits Agree: It's The Wrong Time for Immigration Reform

After the controversial Arizona law, President Obama weighs a national push

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President Obama and congressional Democrats may seek to use the national backlash against Arizona's sweeping anti-immigration law to pass immigration reform. A Republican senator recently said Obama plans to tackle the issue within a month. Democrats had earlier planned to push for immigration reform after the health-care battle, but the still-troubled economy and the looming November elections have raised fears that now might be the wrong time. Should Democrats go for it? Pundits are warning against it.

  • 2011 Would Be Better  NBC News' Mark Murray writes, "Believe it or not, but neither political party really wanted to deal with immigration this year. The White House had been signaling early 2011, and that was a timetable that Republican leaders seemed to have preferred. And there are PLENTY of swing district and swing state Democrats that didn't want to take that same tough vote on immigration in a midterm year as well. ... It's a mixed bag -- at best -- for both parties in a midterm."
  • 'Nobody Wins' in Immigration Fight  Politico's Jonathan Martin warns that neither Democrats nor Republicans really want to deal with "the contentious, no-win issue of immigration reform in the midst of an election year. ... the polarizing issue is fraught with peril for both parties." Democratic "party leaders would have to force members from conservative-leaning districts to cast yet another tough vote that could raise the ire of swing voters. But Republicans face longer-term peril — if they continue to push aggressive legislation cracking down on illegal immigrants, Hispanic voters are likely to continue their exodus to the Democratic Party."
  • For Dems, Immigration Carries Risk  The Hill's Ian Swanson says the issue can "can cut both ways" for Democrats. "Dozens of House and Senate Democrats representing more conservative districts or states will want to avoid voting on one of the most divisive debates in the country’s politics. House Democratic leaders have insisted they will not move on immigration reform before the Senate for precisely this reason."
  • Comes at Cost of Climate Bill  Roll Call's John Stanton reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has "sought to quell growing anger from environmentalists and liberal Democrats frustrated by his decision to focus on comprehensive immigration reform at the likely expense of climate legislation." By putting immigration first, the climate bill may have to wait until after the November elections, which could kill the bill's chances.
  • Why Climate Bill Should Come First  The Washington Post's Ezra Klein makes the case. "Climate change is much likelier to pass than immigration reform. For one thing, it's already passed the House," he writes. "Indeed, when I talk to people about the two issues, the difference is this: When people talk about climate change, they talk about passing a bill. When they talk about immigration reform, they talk about the electoral usefulness of bringing up the issue. ... Moving a climate change bill this year is more important than moving an immigration bill. There's a point-of-no-return on climate change: If you don't start getting carbon emissions down in the near future, it'll be too late. Immigration, conversely, is bad, but it's not getting dramatically worse or harder to fix with each passing month."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.