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As soon as the confrontation over fiscal policy winds down, the Obama administration will begin an all-out drive for comprehensive immigration reform, including seeking a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, according to officials briefed on the plans.
While key tactical decisions are still being made, President Obama wants a catch-all bill that would also bolster border security measures, ratchet up penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants, and make it easier to bring in foreign workers under special visas, among other elements.
Senior White House advisors plan to launch a social media blitz in January, and expect to tap the same organizations and unions that helped get a record number of Latino voters to reelect the president.
Cabinet secretaries are preparing to make the case for how changes in immigration laws could benefit businesses, education, healthcare and public safety. Congressional committees could hold hearings on immigration legislation as soon as late January or early February.
An octet of Senators (including one Senator-elect)—Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jeff Flake (R-AZ)—have begun to meet, lay down principles, and discuss what the legislation should look like. As Politico notes, many of them have worked together and been strong voices on immigration in the past.
Meanwhile, some other Republicans—notably Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) are pushing for a piecemeal approach, in which a series of component bills would be passed through Congress over a period of two years. Leith Anderson, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, has a post today at New York Times’ Room for Debate about why this would be a bad idea:
Let’s take the word out of policy and politics and into a discussion with your mechanic. The two of you are standing in his shop next to your broken car. It’s obvious that it won’t run and the mechanic explains why: out of gas; dead battery; flat tire; lost key. You are concerned about the cost but really need the car to get to work every day. “If I fixed only one or two of the items on the list, which would you recommend?” The mechanic replies: “If you fix just two, your car will still be broken. For it to run right, you need to fix them all.” “Well,” you suggest, “suppose we start with a gallon of gas. That’s the cheapest and easiest. We’ll deal with the others next year.”
Finally you make a bold decision and tell him to fix them all at the same time. The goal is not to make your car perfect but to get the car running so you can go to work every morning. It’s the right thing to do.