President Obama is pressuring lawmakers to complete work on immigration next year. If they were starting from scratch, such a major endeavor would seem impossible. But under the Obama administration's vision, it is more than doable because he is simply picking up the conversation where it left off in 2007, when an massive immigration bill died on the Senate floor.
"My expectation is that we ... begin the process in Congress, very soon after my inauguration," Obama said in a news conference on Wednesday.
The outline of an immigration deal is already there. It involves a path to citizenship for undocumented workers and tightened restrictions on the border and in the workplace so that it will be harder for illegal immigrants to live in the United States and find work.
Now all that is needed is the coalition that supports it. That's happening too. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who crafted similar legislation in 2006 with Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., tweeted after the election, "I agree with calls for comprehensive immigration reform." Senator-elect Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., worked on similar legislation in the House. Both McCain and Flake rejected legalization of illegal immigrants in the 2010 tea party wave, but they have said they did so because it was not politically viable. Now it is.