Yesterday, Roll Call broke the story of White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs saying that immigration reform in 2009 was “unlikely” and remarking that there weren’t the votes necessary to pass legislation. The truth is, however, that this flies in the face of common sense and the momentum that has been built since the failed attempt at reform in 2007.
Senator Harry Reid recently acknowledged that comprehensive immigration reform was, in fact, likely in 2009. Although skepticism over the number of votes has dogged the legislation, Reid knows that the votes are gettable – but we have to push.
He added that although the legislation does not have the backing of all Democrats, the bill will overcome the obstacles that stymied the failed 2007 reform.
The majority leader said he has “no doubt” he could find as many as a dozen Republicans who support the measure to make up for defections in Democratic ranks.
“We can’t deport 11 million undocumented people, we can’t do it physically and financially, as some would want,” Reid said. “Immigration is the strength of our country, we bring waves of people to our country who excel in education and the workforce, and that’s good.”
With Reid working from within Congress, and the Reform Immigration FOR America Campaign building momentum on the ground, there is little reason to doubt that we will have the votes necessary when legislation hits Congress.
Not to mention that the politics of the game have changed. In 2007, we didn’t have the broad, strong coalition of faith, labor and community leaders from across the country. We didn’t have the pressing economic need of bringing millions of workers out of the shadows, increasing tax revenue and raising wages across the board. We didn’t have the decisive votes of Latino and New American voters that we saw during this past election, making the constituency most supportive of immigration reform a political priority for the administration.
All of this and the GOP is in a state of disarray – launching outrageous attacks at the latest Supreme Court Justice and still reeling from their loss during the last election (how many times did we warn them that using immigration as a wedge issue was political suicide)?
As Deepak Bhargava recently said in a piece about the urgent need for immigration reform:
Opposition to reform is increasingly the lonely province of a small but vocal and powerful group of extremists whose messages becomes more and more hateful by the day
With all of these factors at play, reform is inevitable. It will be a matter of whether lawmakers are brave enough to stand up for reform this year or are unwilling to see how urgently America needs this legislation. We have the votes, we have the momentum, the time is NOW.