Thursday, November 4, 2010

What Do the Elections Mean for Immigration Reform?

I will be the first to admit that I am no geenie. I cannot read the tea leaves and see the future. But, I can give an educated guess on what I think the future of comprehesive immigration reform is based on this year's mid-term elections.

This past Tuesday gave the Republicans a historic victory with a pick-up of about 60 seats in the House of Representatives (as I write this, about 10 races are still not decided). The fact is that Republicans generally draw their support from people who oppose immigration reform. Do not expect any movement from the new Congress on comprehensive immigration reform, then.

But, is that the final answer? The current Congress still has a lame duck session. Many hope Congress will address some of the most pressing issues before it adjourns, such as tax reform. Quite frankly, I don't see this Congress addressing tax reform when the Republicans will be more than happy to take that up in the next Congress when they control the agenda and do not have to compromise with the Democrats.

But, immigration is another story. Realistically, the next two months may be the last chance for comprehensive immigration reform for a long time to come. No one will want to touch it before the 2012 election. The outgoing Speaker, and some of the ousted Democrats may see this as their last hurrah. That is, it may be possible to push immigration reform through with the majorities the Democrats will have until January. Such actions are not unprecedented.

Of course, the Democrats who will be remaining in the House after January may have a differenet point of view. If passing comprehensive immigration reform as a last gasp can be seen as abusive and countrary to the will of the people, those Democrats may be resistant to going along with a push to pass such important legislation before the end of this Congress.

In the end, the answer is simply that if comprehensive immigration reform is to happen, it must happen in the next two months. If it does not pass the lame duck session of Congress, then I believe that there will not be another opportunity to pass it again for a long period of time.

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