Tomorrow, Thursday, July 1st, President Obama will make what is being described by the New York Times as “a major speech on immigration” at American University in Washington, D.C. The President is expected to step forward to reassert the leadership of the Federal Government on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform.
According to the New York Times story, although White House officials have not explicitly conceded as much, “Democratic lawmakers acknowledge that the immigration overhaul will not happen before the mid-term elections in November. Now, the White House is seeking to hold on to Latino voters–who turned out for Mr. Obama in record numbers in 2008–despite their frustration with the inaction on the legislation, which would give legal status to millions of illegal immigrants.”
As reported by Change.org, “while it may not come close to the 38 words delivered by our gifted orator at the State of the Union address earlier this year, President Obama is expected to remind Republicans that the immigration system cannot be fixed by just border security, and that Congress must begin bipartisan talks for comprehensive immigration reform.”
Despite the nation’s recent focus on the immigration issue, partly caused by the national uproar surrounding Arizona’s anti-immigrant legislation (SB 1070), it appears that discussions over comprehensive immigration reform will be put on the back burner until after midterm elections. Indeed, according to Politico.com, “last Thursday, at a closed-door meeting between senior Democratic senators and immigration reform advocates, the parties concluded that passing a comprehensive bill would be an extremely tall order this year because of stiff GOP opposition and uneasiness among some Democratic moderates. A number of advocates felt that bringing up a bill this year, only to see it fail, could set back reform efforts for years, according to several people familiar with the meeting. So Reid and his allies are considering abandoning a comprehensive bill until after November, for possible action in a post-election session or in the 112th Congress, which begins in January 2011.”
It remains to be seen what, if any, affect the shelving of comprehensive immigration reform will have on Democrats at the upcoming midterm elections. Unfortunately, Obama, Reid and many Democrats nationally have disappointed the Hispanic and Latino communities by failing to make immigration reform a higher priority in 2009.
In fact, last year, according to Politico, Reid promised immigration reform advocates he’d take up the bill but, instead, was consumed by health care legislation. In April, Reid made a similar assurance at a Las Vegas rally, signaling the issue was moving to the forefront of the election-year agenda.
But now it is late June and prospects for meaningful immigration reform are dwindling. It remains to be seen whether any piecemeal reform will be achieved heading into the election season.