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Are we actually doing immigration reform?

Or is Barack Obama playing a peculiarly wonkish practical joke on Scott Brown?

President Barack Obama called Massachusetts’ new Republican senator, Scott Brown, from Air Force One today to deliver some news: Democrats are moving forward with an immigration overhaul in a month.

Brown, in an interview with the Journal’s Neil King Jr., said the president was giving him a heads-up that immigration was coming down the pike and he should give it some serious thought. The senator promised to look closely at the bipartisan bill that Sens. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) and Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) are trying to produce.

That's a weirdly specific call for Obama to make if he's not serious about moving immigration reform. For more details about the Schumer-Graham legislation that'll be at the heart of this debate, read Roll Call's summary.

By Ezra Klein  |  April 21, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
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We didn't *want* to take over the banks.
We didn't *want* to nationalize healthcare

We were forced to.

And now, we don't *want* amnesty, we're forced into it 'cause the new nationalized healthcare system won't work unless we do.

We wish things were different.

Posted by: WrongfulDeath | April 21, 2010 8:05 AM | Report abuse

It was always planned that this be done before November. It's one of several initiatives to manipulate the elections.

Posted by: truck1 | April 21, 2010 8:11 AM | Report abuse

I've got to respect the seriousness of Obama as a politician. He wants to get things done, and he's going to move to get them done. And he'll try to get Republicans on board, and make it a quasi-bipartisan effort.

He's got a 50/50 chance of it being a net political positive, too. It could really rouse the tea party folks, and get the grass roots working against Democrats in November--or it could help position the tea party movement as a movement of xenophobes and bigots in the minds of independents and swing voters, and help the Democrats in November.

Like him, or his policies, or not (and I don't), Obama is as action-figure worthy as any president before. He's moving forward, seriously, on advancing a comprehensive agenda. Republican pundits like to call him a man-child and a narcissist, but I think dude has a serious vision, and the wherewithal to make it happen (or make as much of it happen as he can).

For good or for ill (or, as I suspect, both good and ill), he's going to be one of our more important and historic presidents.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | April 21, 2010 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Ezra - got anything with more details?

Here's what little meat there was in the Roll Call article:

"The Schumer-Graham outline entails four key components: a biometric Social Security identification card for employment verification; strengthened border security and interior law enforcement; a process for admitting temporary workers; and a controversial path toward citizenship for illegal immigrants currently living in the United States.

"Under the proposal, employers would be allowed to hire illegal immigrants only if they were unsuccessful in recruiting Americans for open positions. Undocumented workers living in the country would have to pay fines and back taxes and perform community service in order to earn citizenship. They would also have to pass background checks and become proficient in English."

With respect to admitting temporary workers, the devil is in the details, as it always has been.

If the effect of this part of the bill is to effectively legalize indentured servitude, then I wouldn't be able to support it, no matter how good the rest of the bill might be.

But the Roll Call summary gives me nothing to go on.

Posted by: rt42 | April 21, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

If immigration reform is not enacted before the midterm elections, it will not happen in the foreseeable future because there will be no majority for immigration reform in the new Congress.
If Obama fails to pass immigration reform, he will not get reelected in 2012. In 2008, 67% of the Latinos voted for Obama. How many Latinos will support him if he squanders the large majorities that the Democrats have in the House and the Senate and fails to enact immigration reform before the midterm elections?

Posted by: mehuwss | April 21, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

The article points out at the end that we're basically going to have the same situation we've had on every significant piece of legislation during this Congress. A Republican forges legislation with Democrats, just like Grassley and Corker. The rest of the Republican caucus feels the heat from their constituents and comes out against the bill. Then the original sponsor will feel the heat. I just hope Graham is more Corker and less Grassley so some legislation can actually get passed.

Posted by: jeffwacker | April 21, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

The only reform I want to see is for the government to start enforcing the laws. We need to limit immigration, not give the millions here a pass on playing by the rules, granting them citizenship and by that act, opening the floodgates to extended families. We need to eliminate birthright citizenship, which in turn would eliminate many who come here specifically to give birth. Those now talking about "reform" and those who who have done so over the years have it wrong. We should not be rewarding people for breaking the law, and we should not change the law to allow over-population. It simply has to stop somewhere. We are approaching a tipping point where we all will suffer the lack of jobs, basic healthcare, quality education, clean air and water and the quality of life we now have.

Posted by: Lilycat1 | April 21, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

1. Each alien must register or be deported.

2. The registration fee must cover any research, processing costs and enter a medical payment fund.

3. Each will be finger printed and provide documents required to identify.

4. An alien registration card will be issued with encryption code. It will not allow air or train travel, but will allow bus, the obtaining of special driver licenses and they will be allowed to work if an employer showed and documented due diligence in trying to find a citizen. All taxes must be paid plus paying into any health care fund. The cards will have an expiry date and must be renewed. Those with expired cards can be deported. Cards will be issued to those who are not wanted or warrants issued or who have not paid their current debt to society. Cards will be issued to those who did not commit felonies or did, and paid their debt in full.

5. Those with cards issued may separately file to receive green cards but will have to wait on line.

6. After signed by the President, children of Aliens will not receive automatic citizenship even if born in the U.S. They would be eligible to receive Alien cards.

7. All those with Alien cards and who have residence within a jurisdiction may enjoy resident/citizen education privileges.

8. Any Alien not carded or not having a government receipt of card-in-progress can be deported. Any expired card or person with a felony conviction after applying for a card or receiving one will be deported.

9. Alien students will receive a student card. It will have an expiry date. They may not work more than 20 hours/week.

10. Regardless of student's degree, students must leave the country when their card expires but may register ask for a single renewal. Students can work up to 20 hours per week with student cards.

11. There will be no Alien cards issued to illegal entries after the President signs the new law.

12. I like the idea of non working Aliens to pay into a medical fund or have their card canceled.

Posted by: HarveyY | April 21, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Does Immigration Reform need to be deficit neutral?

The Health Care reform bill did not include illegal immigrants in the subsidies or the Medicaid expansion. If these 11 million are legalized, they will be eligible for American health care at a cost.

That action will totally blow up the deficit reduction that was in the recently passed health care reform bill.

Posted by: lancediverson | April 21, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

no, we are not going to have an "immigration reform", giving all lawbreakers a free pass, even if they will have to "pay taxes, learn English, etc". This is bull. They are here, which puts them in a much better position than people who want to immigrate here legally from their countries. If more workers are needed here, the temporary visa should be issued from their countries. Which means, that all illegal aliens who want to work in the US must go back to their countries. If the businesses who employ them will suffer, so be it. I can put up with any shortages on the market because of the illegals going back, because I believe in the law and enforcement of it, despite the political manipulations and blackmail by calling people like me "a racist".
The name calling is totally idiotic. Why the enforcement of our border is connected to the "comprehensive immigration reform" ? Many people cross the border daily, as if it were an insignificant line of no consequences. Who are we? Why do we let ourselves be manipulated by the political calculations on the one hand, and businesses who want to exploit cheap labor on the other? Are we really so scared to stand up for our identity, our border, laws and a common sense? One country, one law, one language. From many, one. That's what I believe.

Posted by: wggodek | April 21, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

TODAY would be a good day to contact your Representatives and Senators and to convince them that they will not be re-elected in November if they even THINK about immigration reform.

30 million dependents - and counting - who hate Americans, have an agenda, and are DEMANDING access to all of our entitlement programs is simply unacceptable.

Time to put up or shut up.

Posted by: easttxisfreaky | April 21, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

If immigration reform and all other bill's they try to pass before the November election's are anying like the healthcare bill you know it will not be good for the working American's get the lubrcant before yo bend over.

Posted by: jburo | April 21, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

You know, I'd say, "Don't assume the bill will grant amnesty to current illegal aliens until the bill is released. We don't know what it is yet." but I know that many conservatives will call it amnesty no matter what it is.

And Kevin, I'm constantly impressed by the reasonableness of your positions. I understand people disagreeing with President Obama's policies, but I think it's clear that he has an honest belief that his policies will address the country's problems for the better, those policies aren't based simply on whim or dogma, and he's trying to get those policies enacted. I really hope that the Republicans can get it together enough so that the next Republican president will seriously address the country's problems in the way Obama is, just from a slight step to the right, and with their knees pulled in tight.

Posted by: MosBen | April 21, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

So,will Republican US Senator Scott Brown
turn out to be another two faced clone of
Amnesty John McCain,and be Comrade Leader
Socialist Democrat Barack Hussein Obama's
RINO Co-Sponsor of the 2010 Obama-Reid-
Pelosi-Hoyer-?Scott Brown? and Amnesty John
McCain Illegal Alien Amnesty Law?..If so can Scott Brown be RECALLED? The Arizona Voters are going to Voted Two Face Sell Out
RINO Amnesty John McCain,that cosponsor of
the failed Teddy Kennedy and John McCain last Illegal Alien Amnesty Bill Out here in
2010 over Amnesty John McCain supporting Illegal Alien Amnesty,so will that be what
happens if Scott Brown turns out to be a
RINO and Sell Out Like Amnesty John McCain?
Vote All Incumbents Out in 2010 & 2012!!!

Posted by: carleen09 | April 21, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Are we doing immigration reform? No. There is nothing wrong with the current immigration laws. We are accepting LEGAL immigrants from all over the world. What is being proposed by Obama & the Dems is Amnestty for 12 million ILLEGAL aliens, who have no respect for our laws. Are we going to give Amnesty. Hell NO! They should all be deported.

Posted by: acahorvath | April 21, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

*It's one of several initiatives to manipulate the elections.*

A DASTARDLY conspiracy to *manipulate the elections* by deviously seeking to deliver on a campaign platform! I hear his next trick will be to steal the 2010 midterm elections by supporting Democratic candidates in the house and senate.

Posted by: constans | April 21, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse


Kevin_Willis seems to have an ingenious plan to make being a Republican respectable again and he's co-oped EK's liberal leaning blog to do it.

He's been at it for months! Good luck Kevin. Seriously.

Posted by: BHeffernan1 | April 21, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, please write about the Uniting American Family Act. The democrats are currently debating whether to include the text of this bill into Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Basically, the bill would allow me (a citizen) to sponsor my same-sex foreign-born partner for permanent residency. Right now, if my partner loses his work visa, I'll be forced to leave the country to follow him. That's a pretty cruel result. Moreover, there's a possibility that the only chance UAFA has of passing is if it's attached to comprehensive immigration reform. If you want more info, see or this op-ed:

Posted by: blah1 | April 21, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Wow, immigration reform really brings out the crazies.

Posted by: blah1 | April 21, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Immigration Reform in 2010 will make Health Care Reform in 2009-2010 look like bean-bag. I know there will be more intensity on immigration reform than health reform.

Posted by: lancediverson | April 21, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

If the Arizona governor signs the immigration enforcement bill on her desk and the law stands up to inevitable judicial scrutiny. I think immigration reform will be dead. You will see states like Virginia pass laws such as this and there will be only a few states who will be sanctuary states.

I am only for enforcement reform is not necessary in my opinion. However if reform is to have any chance it needs to be passed by June or the pendulum may have swung too far to the nativist camp.

Posted by: cleancut77 | April 21, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

There are millions upon millions of people in the world who have been waiting years to legally enter this country. These are people who are playing by the rules. There are millions of legal immigrants in this country who wait years if not decades to bring family members into this country. Again, these are people who play by the rules. On the other hand, there are millions of people who said that they do not respect the rules of this country and came anyway. Therefore, I pose the question: Should we reward people who played by the rules or reward people who refused to play by the rules? What we should do is deport the millions of illegal immigrants currently resident in this country and welcome the millions who have played by the rules. I know various advocacy organizations will oppose my point of view, but it does reward those who play by the rules and punishes those who do not. After all, is this not the American way.

Posted by: jeffreed | April 21, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

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