Elise Foley, immigration maven over at HuffPo, talks about the president’s new-found urgency on reform:
“As of Monday, Obama will have four more years to reshape his immigration legacy. And there’s every indication that he wants it to be different. He doesn’t want the dubious distinction of being ‘deporter-in-chief’ — especially since he was elected and reelected as the avatar of an ever more diverse America. Nor does he merely want to be the author of a patchwork, watered-down reprieve for young undocumented immigrants — a program that could be ended any time by a successor.
Obama and his aides insist that he is determined in the second term to find a permanent legislative solution for a much bigger category and a much bigger number: the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America today who, if Obama can convince Congress to go along, could gain a path to citizenship.”
The president may have an ally of sorts in the likes of Sen. Marco Rubio, who flirted with the idea of offering a pathway to citizenship in a Wall Street Journal article published on Monday.
“They [undocumented immigrants] would have to come forward,” Rubio told the newspaper. “They would have to undergo a background check. … They would be fingerprinted. They would have to pay a fine, pay back taxes, maybe even do community service. They would have to prove they’ve been here for an extended period of time. They understand some English and are assimilated. Then most of them would get legal status and be allowed to stay in this country.”
Rep. Paul Ryan then came out in favor of Rubio’s position, posting on his Facebook page, “I support the principles he’s outlined: modernization of our immigration laws; stronger security to curb illegal immigration; and respect for the rule of law in addressing the complex challenge of the undocumented population. Our future depends on an immigration system that works.”
The general consensus among Washington observers is that some kind of immigration reform is likely to be signed into law by the president, if not this year, then at least before 2016. The Republicans have no other hand to play. And as the president’s senior adviser David Axelrod told HuffPo, “it would be a suicidal impulse for Republicans in Congress to continue to block [reform].”
President Obama has made public is prioritization of immigration reform in his second term, so the GOP opposition must work with him and his party to pass reform — providing the president and the Dems with a huge legislative win in the process — or risk further alienating a growing constituency in the Latino population.
Whether reform’s passed or not, the president’s hands will remain spotless.
The Republicans, on the other hand, must decide who their going to receive their lumps from: the president or the voters.