By Robert Schlesinger |
The gang of eight's proposed legislative bill signals the start of an effort that will be much different than that leading to the "1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act," which was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. This time there will be more pages for legislative consideration, more people affected by the law and certainly more political discourse to overcome as the bill runs through the political process in congress.
The bill will have plenty of devils buried in the details for legislators on both sides of the aisle to dislike. Legislators on the Democrat side will say the bill is too punitive and insensitive towards the undocumented. They will say it favors big business at the expense of "hard working families" (also known as union workers). Republicans will revert back to the cover of moral hazard principles when decrying "amnesty" again.
But the challenge is not insurmountable; there are superstars that are using their own gravitational fields to fend off those devils from the details. And so far the brightest star has been Sen. Marco Rubio. Certainly there are 2016 aspirations that are linked to the motives for his involvement, yet insiders will tell you that he is genuine in tackling this issue and is motivated by conviction to principles and not political expediency. I agree,
The other superstar is President Obama, yet his contribution so far has been to remain as a "black hole" in the universe, unseen to the naked eye yet with extraordinary gravitational powers. At some point, he will have to bring the left side to the middle just as Rubio brings the right towards the middle. For the president, the accusation is that he is seeking to build his legacy, rather than to make right with the undocumented he has ignored. He has yet to put political capitol into the game; we will see how much he is willing to invest now.
During the debates to come, it will be difficult to peel legislators away from their ideological positions, as they would then be vulnerable to a challenge in a primary election. In the end, the most difficult challenge to passing immigration reform is the same as for any future legislation of real impact. It is about imposing a higher value on leadership for issues important to the country as a whole than on the preservation impulses of legislators in safe districts. Or in other words, someone better pressure them, because it is not happening due to them alone.
The evidence is clear: The immigration system is broken and we cannot afford as a country to fail in this effort as we did in 2007. The sausage making will be distasteful. But lets be clear, our country will be worse off if we do not pass the gang of eight reform. Let's hope our leaders see the wisdom in pushing, threating and bargaining with the legislators on both extremes to find consensuses to pass the bill.
About Luis Alvarado Political Analyst for CNN Español and Telemundo
Mark Krikorian Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies
Tamar Jacoby Fellow at the New America Foundation
Lisa Garcia Bedolla Chair of the Center for Latino Policy Research