The WSJ reports:
Obama Tells Hispanic Caucus He's Willing to Tackle ImmigrationHispanic Business reported:
President Barack Obama is ready to add immigration to his already full plate.
Obama told members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Wednesday that he’s still willing to push for a comprehensive immigration overhaul during the first year of his presidency.
That could be good news for some business groups that pushed for changes but came up short under President George W. Bush.
“I think the collective sense at the end was, this is a good step,” said Rep. Raul Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona, who attended the one-hour session at the White House Wednesday. All 24 members of the caucus attended. Hispanic lawmakers and the president discussed specific timelines for trying to win passage of legislation, but neither side was speaking publicly about dates for action following their meeting.
The White House seemed to play down both the talks and their substance. ... Caucus members’ statements following the meeting said that overhauling immigration law was the only agenda item.
The interest of the White House in limiting attention to the controversial issue is most likely a sign of how difficult it will be for Obama to muster the support needed to win passage of substantial change, especially as he spends his political capital trying to fix the economy and on reforming health care.
Grijalva said Obama also promised to use his executive authority to make some substantive immigration changes soon, without waiting for passage of legislation.
But immigration legislation is on the agenda and moving forward, said Hispanic lawmakers who attended the West Wing meeting. The caucus consists of Democrats and one independent.
Perhaps somebody should have mentioned that fact to Karl Rove eight years ago: no matter how many votes George W. Bush picks up personally, over 90% of Hispanic elected officials are Democrats, so more Hispanics just mean more Democratic power.
"The president said more than any of us expected him to say," said Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill.
Mr. Gutierrez, who is wrapping up a cross-country tour to highlight how families are affected by the immigration system, said the lawmakers "made it absolutely clear that this is a civil rights issue of our community."
Deep down, Obama thinks about the various ethnicities the way the Rev. Lovejoy thinks about the religions:
Homer Simpson: "God is punishing me."To Obama, there are only Blacks, Whites, and Miscellaneous.
Rev. Lovejoy: "No, but he was working in the hearts of your friends and neighbors when they went to your aid, be they Christian, Jew, or [looks at Apu, pauses] ... Miscellaneous."
Apu: "Hindu! There are 700 million of us!"
Rev. Lovejoy: "Aw, that's super."
But, if he's starting to think about amnesty not as another boring Miscellaneous issue (excuse me, Hispanic issue), but as a civil rights issue, watch out. At least, that's what Rep. Gutierrez's plan for manipulating Obama seems to be.
Obama told the group that he will work on immigration in a method similar to other major policy initiatives. There will be a public forum on immigration, possibly within the next two months, to unveil key principles of overhaul legislation.
The recent history of federal votes on immigration is that the recessions come at the beginning of decades but the votes only come during the prosperous late middle periods of the decades. Thus, the 1981-1982 recession led to public demands to do something about illegal immigration. But supporters of the status quo stalled until booming 1986, then passed a "compromise" amnesty / enforcement bill, which they corruptly failed to enforce. The 1991-92 recession led to public demands for a crackdown, which the establishment fobbed off until making a few minor reforms during booming 1996. The 2001-02 recession derailed Bush's amnesty plan for half a decade, until he, Ted Kennedy, and John McCain revived it in the Housing Bubble years of 2006 and 2007, which the public still managed to defeat.
So, if Obama wants to fight for amnesty in 2009, bring it on. It's our best chance, ju-jitsu style, to get something positive done instead.