Americas Quarterly sent me a forthcoming interview with Harry Reid that will appear in their magazine, allowing me to post it here (I am happy to plug them as they do good work, and I would also recommend their blog, which you can access on their site). They sent it to me as a PDF, which unfortunately I have been unable to successfully upload in any way to the blog. So I will quote from it and encourage you to check it out when it is published in a few days.
I feel it is a revealing interview in the sense that it shows both political impotence and lack of policy direction.
My goal is still to pass comprehensive immigration reform that secures our borders, punishes employers who exploit immigrant labor and undercut American wages, and requires those living in the shadows to register with the government, pay fines, pay taxes, learn English, and then go to the back of the line. My hope is that the Republicans will work with us on a comprehensive approach that addresses the many complex components necessary to fix our broken system.
Keep hoping. So what will our U.S. policy priorities be for Latin America? Well, he can't name any.
I have traveled extensively in the region. My first two foreign trips as Majority Leader were to Latin America because I believed we needed to refocus on our neighborhood. It is precisely because we share strong cultural and economic ties with the region that Latin America should be a natural priority for us.
So taking a few trips is the same as establishing priorities. Well, what about those people who want an FTA with Panama and/or Colombia? Well, not going to happen.
It is my understanding the Obama administration is working with the leadership of Colombia and Panama to address different areas of concern for members of Congress. These discussions, and the outcomes they will lead to, are key to finding a way forward with those agreements. As we have seen before, sending an agreement up before building support in Congress is counterproductive. At the end of the day, what we want are agreements that are fair to American workers, farmers and businesses and that deal fairly with our friends and allies.
I have often argued that it is better to do nothing than "do something" just for the sake of it, which often creates blowback. But this suggests an almost complete lack of even thinking about what could be done.