Anyone interested in immigration reform is looking for signs of life. I've already noted how President Obama gave only a lackluster reference in the SOTU. Now according to Jeffrey Kaye writing at the Huffington Post, a lobbyist who is involved in negotiating a bipartisan bill says they won't even have a first draft until at least March. I generally agree with Kaye's pessimistic assessment of the situation, but disagree with one point:
One influential senator, Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has suggested a more wary piecemeal approach to immigration reform, rather than one big package. Breaking off chunks and dealing separately with the contentious issues of legalization, enforcement, and "future flows" of migrants may seem like a pragmatic short term approach to immigration but is likely to result in once again postponing the issue. And, if it's not going to be dealt with in 2010, it's almost certain to be ignored later on as politicos prepare for the 2012 presidential election year.
This latter point is not true. Immigration reform was a winning issue in the 2008 presidential elections. Recall that John McCain was the only pro-reform candidate yet won his party's nomination. Plus, both parties will once again want to court Latino voters. I have said many times that there is no Latino bloc and Latinos are not necessarily even in favor of reform. However, the perception that a "Latino vote" exists has been a motivator for politicians to embrace reform.