President Obama called Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) from Air Force One today to tell the Republican that immigration reform was coming in a matter of weeks — and to encourage Brown to get involved with the legislation.
Obama, who’s been under pressure from reform advocates to act on immigration, urged Brown to consider legislation being proposed by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Charles Schumer (D-NY). According to the Wall Street Journal, Obama told Brown Democrats would move forward with immigration reform in a month.
“Senator Brown told the president that he would review any legislation if it came before the Senate, but he believes that the immediate focus should be on fixing the economy and creating jobs,” Brown spokesman Colin Reed told TPM.
Immigration reform advocates have been asking for fewer words, and more action, from the President and leaders in Congress for some time now. Frustrations with the dismal pace of promised action on real immigration reform spurred the 200,000-person march in Washington on March 21st, 2010, and is gearing up to drive the next round of national mobilizations for immigration reform on May 1st.
As Kos pointed out earlier today in “Gutierrez: immigration reform, or we stay home,” there could be a political cost to Democrats in November if these developments turn out to be more words than action:
Rep. Luis Gutierrez is right:
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) member has strongly criticized the administration’s policy on deportation and questioned its commitment to far-reaching reform.
Some Democrats have felt little urgency in pursuing the controversial issue, partly because they see no risk that Hispanic voters will bolt the party for the GOP. But Gutierrez says they are missing the real political consequence of inaction.
“We can stay home,” Gutierrez said in an interview with The Hill. “We can say, ‘You know what? There is a third option: We can refuse to participate.’ ”
Democrats are suffering from an intensity gap, and it can ill afford to have one of its key constituencies stay home because the party welched on a key campaign promise.
Despite the good news about Senator Brown, doubts continue to surface as to whether the White House is doing everything needed to lay the groundwork for real immigration reform.
Local groups across the country have set a deadline of May 1st to see concrete progress, or step up their criticism and action. Facing the most punitive (and perhaps least constitutional) immigration law in the nation, Arizona youth are taking matters into their own hands and chaining themselves to the Capitol in protest. S.B. 1070 is a bill that progressive blogger John Amato argues would turn Arizona into a “police state” by forcing local cops to profile and interrogate anyone who “looks” undocumented. Here are those protesters:
Latina Lista argues that Arizona developments may have prompted the call from Obama to Brown:
Whatever the source, President Obama seems to have gotten the message that as long as Congress and his administration put immigration reform on the backburner, the chasm of racial tension in this country is only going to get deeper…
This Arizona law would be less crazy, though still offensively bad, if we actually, you know, had “papers,” but we really don’t. Lots of people don’t have passports, and no one carries them around. Birth certificates are generally locked away somewhere.
Meanwhile, vigils continue around the clock to urge Governor Brewer to veto SB 1070. America’s Voice joined forces with local and national groups to deliver over 50,000 petitions to the Governor yesterday afternoon in Phoenix — demanding that she veto the bill.
In addition, the state’s own Association of Chiefs of Police believe, according to the Arizona Daily Star:
It [SB 1070] could erode trust with immigrants who may be witnesses. The group also warned that it would be too costly and would distract police from dealing with more serious problems.
What’s happening in Arizona today is a perfect example of what will continue to take place around the nation if we fail to repair our dysfunctional immigration system now. In other words, the stakes are high, and patience is wearing thin.