Significant immigration reform in the United States has been a major political issue for over a decade. While everyone agrees that something needs to be done, hardly anyone can agree on exactly what needs to be done.
The U.S. Senate has passed the latest attempt at immigration reform and the effort faces an uncertain future in the U.S. House. Few believe that the same bill that passed the Senate will pass the House in one piece. If anything passes, the final House version will likely look somewhat different than the Senate version, if anything passes at all.
What will help determine if anything comes out of the House of significant value is finding out who really needs this reform more, President Obama or House Republicans. If neither place a very high value on the final product, then the entire charade in DOA.
But there is hope for those looking for some significant reform because frankly, whether they like it or not, both the President and House Republicans desperately need some real reform to happen.
For President Obama, getting a victory on something significant will go a long way to making his second term mean more than the recent scandals that it is known for so far. With five years of his administration under his belt, President Obama only has Obamacare to show as a significant achievement. He desperately needs something else to hang his legacy on, beyond the end of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. His motivation to wheel and deal for an immigration compromise should be high.
For House republicans, the need is different, but still very important. True immigration reform can represent progress on two fronts.
On one front, more conservative Tea Party Republicans should support reform that means more border security. That is not an easy element of the plan to employ, but it seems to still be in the picture.
On a separate and more politically important front, Republicans need to come away with an immigration reform package that can make some headway with Latino voters. Now, the opinions of Latino voters are just as diverse as any other group of people, but Democrats have been able to box Republicans in on the immigration issue for so long, that lack of true progress on the issue has given the GOP a severe image problem.
With the amount of Latino voters only growing, stemming this image problem is paramount for the Republican Party. 2014 will represent the party’s best shot at making progress in the Senate, so moving on immigration reform right now can indeed go a long way.
Despite both the President and House Republicans needing the benefits of advancing immigration reform, I believe the chances for serious reform are still very long. But the conversation would not even be happening if some politicians didn’t think there was a chance for success. The Senate version of the bill did receive decent GOP support in the Senate, so there is a glimmer of hope.
What can fan that glimmer into a virtual flame of optimism is the very real need for both the President and House Republicans to make some progress. We will learn very quickly just how desperate both parties are to make a deal.
If major hurdles are announced early and greeted with threats of dumping the entire plan, the same “do-nothing” strategy of the last several years will continue.
But if both the President and House Republicans look at their respective futures realistically, this may finally be the time for real immigration reform progress.
About The Blogger
– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, on Colorado Public Television.