Surprise! Eight U.S. senators have come up with a bipartisan plan for immigration reform, and it’s pretty much the same “comprehensive proposal” that’s been around for years, the same one President Obama keeps proposing. Except for a hidden snag.
As Rachel Maddow pointed out in her MSNBC program last night, the senators included a provision that the reform plan should have approval from border governors to go forward, and at least one border governor – Arizona’s Jan Brewer – is unlikely to give it her blessing.
Furthermore, the Senate plan doesn’t have much of a chance of passing the House of Representatives.
That makes the bipartisan plan touted by the eight senators a shameless theatrical display designed to win some Latino votes.
I was amazed to see John McCain’s smiling face in the bipartisan line-up (photos above). Wasn’t he the same John McCain who swore up and down during those primary debates in 2008 that he would never, ever let undocumented immigrants get a path to American citizenship? But I guess not. I suppose he is again the John McCain who proposed comprehensive immigration reform before he was against it.
Then there’s Lindsey Graham (how I wish he would change his last name!).
As Alex Pareene writes in Salon.com today:
Lindsey Graham is a pathological deal-killer. He lives to bargain endlessly and then pull out at the last minute. Lindsey Graham is the master of refusing to support things he actually supports because a Democrat hurt his feelings. He withdrew his support for immigration reform in 2010 because the Senate planned to also consider climate legislation, another policy he claimed to support. He reneged on the Dream Act. He promised that he was working on immigration reform with Chuck Schumer two years ago and nothing happened.
The problem is, Graham is actually necessary for the bill to pass the Senate, and whenever his vote is crucial, he responds by withholding it….
If history is any guide, Graham will continue carefully negotiating and signaling his support for the proposal until he is forced to withdraw his support at the last minute because of some entirely unrelated bit of Senate business.
Pareene points out that “there are not enough Republican votes in the House to pass anything that would earn Obama’s signature or the nod from Senate Democrats.”
And he predicts the “grassroots” right-wing press will howl bloody murder if Republicans in Congress do anything that makes them look soft on illegal immigrants.
So, where do we go from here? I suppose President Obama will once again come out in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, and everyone concerned will get the chance to rally their supporters with stirring rhetoric. Some of the actors might even succeed in winning a few Latino votes. And then..,
And then it will be back to square one.
In this Congress, I don’t expect any legislation of value to get enacted.
My guess is that reform – including immigration reform – will have to wait until America wakes up and kicks the Tea Party crazies and their evil buddies out of Congress. Pray for this to happen in 2014.