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Reaction Roundup: Klein, Petersen, and the Politics of Immigration Reform Moving Forward

by Jacquelyn Mahendra on 04/10/2009 at 8:23pm

signsEver since yesterday’s front page New York Times article,  the debate has been raging in the blogosphere and network news over whether or not the signs are pointing to immigration reform moving forward this year.

The Wall Street Journal ran a piece detailing White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s new tack on the issue, making the success of such a reform more likely:

While Mr. Emanuel once predicted that comprehensive immigration reform wouldn’t be considered until the second term of a Democratic president, he now says conversations on the issue will begin this year to lay the groundwork for possible action in 2010. The issue is also likely to arise next week when President Barack Obama travels to Mexico to meet with President Felipe Calderón.

At the same time, CNN was quick to report: “Obama not pushing to pass immigration reform this year:”

While it’s a top priority for the president’s first term, White House spokesman Nick Shapiro says “the president has consistently said that he wants to start the discussion later this year because our immigration system is broken … but the economy comes first.” 

It seems that Shapiro’s comments do not really reflect a shift in the White House answer on moving immigration reform forward this year — in fact, he restated a campaign promise that the President has repeatedly affirmed since taking office. Moreover, reform advocates agree that fixing the economy must be our nation’s top priority, as Shapiro states. However, reform is an integral part of economic recovery, not in opposition to it.

As Maria Teresa Petersen, Executive Director of Voto Latino argues:

Doing the math from a recent Congressional Budget Office report, had we passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill three years ago when President Bush proposed it, taxpayers would have made $66 billion in taxes, fines, and fees paid by undocumented workers. That’s just one more reason why we have to stop saying mañana when it comes to immigration.

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