Obama and Congress: At the Crossroads of Immigration Reform
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Despite all this, debate on the bill is expected to begin in the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) -- who faces a tough reelection battle in 2010 -- will make sure the issue is on the legislative calendar.
Schumer, an astute politician who understands that winning elections requires showing results, expects to introduce a bill in January.
Karl Rove, a key advisor to George W. Bush, wanted to solidify Bush’s support among Latinos after the 2004 elections by passing immigration reform, but the anti-immigrant wing of his party prevailed. Schumer and others want to solidify and increase Latino support for Obama and the Democrats, and they understand that fulfilling their promise of reform is one way of accomplishing this.
A total of 34 Senate seats will be in play in the November 2010 elections.
The House of Representatives
In the House of Representatives, Rep. Gutierrez is the standard-bearer for immigration reform, but the bill was officially introduced on Tuesday by his Democratic colleague, Solomón Ortiz. The liberal bill was introduced to put pressure on Congress and the White House, and to ensure a seat at the table for its supporters during negotiations over the final bill.
Now as in 2007, Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, has reiterated that while she supports the elusive prospect of reform, the Senate must act first.
But the House of Representatives is itself a complex organism representing various tendencies, particularly among Speaker Pelosi’s own House Democrats.
The anti-immigrant faction can count on the votes of the 93 members of the Immigration Reform Caucus (IRC), founded by Republican ex-Congressman Tom Tancredo, which counts six Democrats among its ranks.
Among the 52 members of the Blue Dog Caucus -- conservative Democrats -- in the House, 26 have supported measures against undocumented immigrants.
The pro-immigrant faction could include the membership of Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC). Immigration reform could also gain the support of a majority of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) and Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).
In November 2010, however, all 435 members of the House will face re-election. For Democratic congressmen, the straightforward choice will be to back their promises or fail the Hispanic voters who voted in record numbers in 2008 -- including some who voted for Democrats with the expectation that they would make comprehensive immigration reform a reality.
Rafael Prieto Zartha collaborated on this article.