It is becoming more and more clear that President Obama and congressional Democrats don’t intend to get to immigration reform this year–despite the fact that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid recently released an outline of a significantly right-leaning immigration proposal. Speaking at a Cinco de Mayo event in the White House Rose Garden, the president spoke of only beginning the work on the issue this year:
“I want to begin work this year, and I want Democrats and Republicans to work with me — because we’ve got to stay true to who we are, a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants,” Obama said at the event Wednesday.
That choice of phrasing–“begin work this year”–can’t be emphasized enough. It is a big wink to everyone in Washington that immigration is very unlikely to be completed this year.
This is just the latest hint from Obama that he does not expect to complete immigration reform before the November election. On the same day Senate Democrats released their bill outline, the president told reporters on Air Force One that there “may not be the appetite” for comprehensive immigration reform. Clearly, the messaging is that Democrats care, Republicans are to blame for not playing nice, and don’t expect reform to actually go anywhere this year.
Arizona’s new, draconian, “check your papers” law has put immigrants squarely in the headlines. How immigration reform advocates and the Hispanic community will respond to the the growing number of hints from Obama that comprehensive reform is dead this session–while Democrats continue to place the blame for failure on Republicans-remains a big wild card in the upcoming midterm election.