Immigration Reform Moving Forward

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Immigration reform continues to move towards fruition this week. The supposed disruption of the process by the leak of parts of the Obama plan never actually happened. The accidental (on purpose) leak gave Marco Rubio an opportunity to bash Obama, always welcome for someone emanating from the Tea Party right. Calls from the president to the Republicans in the Gang of Eight and an agreement to meet with them this week gave the appearance that the conservative senators are leaders to be reckoned with.

John McCain’s refusal to back down on immigration reform in front of a hostile Arizona audience sent a message to other Republicans that they can survive the noisy disruptions of the anti-immigrant activists. He was rewarded by being given choice interviews on the Sunday talking head shows, demonstrating relevance at a time when many believed his political currency had exhausted itself.

The working out of an agreement by labor unions and the Chamber of Commerce on temporary workers was perhaps the most important development of the week. The unions dropped their long-standing opposition to temporary work visas in exchange for tough protections for American workers. This should swing at least a few more conservatives into the pro-reform camp. The day after the agreement was cut, Republicans in the House of Representatives began to sound optimistic about passing reform.

By pushing the Senate a week ago, President Obama served notice that if the conservatives want to get part of the credit for reform they can’t drag their heels. The bill needs to be voted on by August. As a result, it looks like a Senate bill will be ready before the last week of March.

The next four weeks will be crucial in the crafting of legislation that will influence immigration for a generation. New Yorkers are represented by one of the most important players in this drama, Chuck Schumer. Call him this week to tell him that you want a bill that places the undocumented on a quick path to citizenship, that you believe that LGBT families should receive the same protections as everyone else, and that immigrants are entitled to the same due process as anyone else in America. Call him at 202-224-6542. Thank him for his years of work on this issue, but tell him we need real immigration reform now.

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.

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