As fall approaches, the countdown to the end of 2021 commences and, with it, the possibility that various legislative matters will either be resolved or remain in the pipeline—just one year to the midterm elections in 2022, when all eyes will be on electoral politics.
Once again, the topic of immigration reform with a path to legalization is caught in the middle of this process, while it is still unclear whether finally, this year will produce a favorable result for the millions of unodcumented immigrants who have been waiting for a resolution for decades; or if, as usually happens, the issue reverts back to being an electoral one, with Republicans exploiting it in a racist way and Democrats making promises they never fulfill.
In recent days, the Democrats in the House of Representatives have been embroiled in an internal fight—between the leadership of the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and a group of moderates—regarding the bills that will be considered and the order in which they will be considered, including the budget that includes a path to legalization for millions of people. (The budget framework was approved along party lines on Tuesday).
It happens that many centrist and moderate Democrats represent districts that could incline toward Republicans and that is where the concern lies —among incumbents wishing to retain their seats.
But Pelosi does not have the luxury of losing Democratic votes if she wants to advance President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda, due to the tight majority that the Democrats have in the lower chamber. The same is true in the Senate.
One can try to understand the arguments on both sides, but what continues to be incomprehensible is that the Democrats, as they have done in previous opportunities, don’t know how to take advantage of the fact that they are in the majority and have the opportunity to advance measures that can become law; and, at the same time, could demonstrate to the voters, especially those who voted for them, that they are capable of turning campaign promises into reality.
Certainly, the Democratic caucuses in both chambers of Congress are diverse in many ways, especially ideologically. There have always been tensions between liberals, moderates, and conservatives. But after the Donald Trump presidency, with all of the damage he caused at every level, one would think that the Democrats would utilize the majority the voters gave them to try to advance measures that benefit the people, whether in matters of the economy, infrastructure, employment, or immigration, to name a few. That they would try to limit their internal battles so that they do not result in a paralysis that impedes producing concrete results.
For some reason, the Democrats have almost perfected the ability to undo opportunities that are right in front of them. When they are in the minority, they condemn the Republicans and promise the moon and stars to voters, assuring that if they give them the opportunity, they will propose measures that benefit them. When they assume power, as in this case by controlling both chambers of Congress and the White House, the same, old internal battle begins, as if the majorities they have are eternal and Democrats have the luxury of wasting time through quarrels that keep them from producing results.
In the case of immigration reform, the wait has lasted for decades. Throughout all this time, Democrats have accused Republicans of torpedoing their efforts and exploiting immigrants for political reasons, using them as scapegoats. And although it’s true, the question is, what have the Democrats done when they were in charge? This occurred with Barack Obama, when he assumed power in 2009 with a Democratic Congress. He promised immigration reform, but his party was incapable of advancing it while also promoting health care reform, which took all of the oxygen. Ultimately, the Democrats lost control of the lower chamber in 2010 and immigration reform never solidified with Obama, who would only sign—under pressure—the executive order that created DACA in 2012.
Here we find ourselves at the same point, with the Democrats in control of the legislative and executive branches, involved in internal fights and facing various domestic and international crises, which should be no excuse for inaction because a government of the size, power, and resources of the United States has to be capable of doing various things at the same time.
Those who gave the Democrats the privilege of recapturing the White House and controlling Congress—the voters—are tired of excuses and delays and hope that finally, promises that have been formulated over years will be turned into reality. The weeks and months to come will determine if there is progress or if we will return to the same old electoral song and dance: the one where we “almost” did it, but it really will be achieved if “you re-elect me.”