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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Immigration End-Game

The “compromise” immigration reform bill is slogging its way through the swamp of the U.S. Senate this week, with Republican and Democratic amendments largely being rejected. Most of the troglodyte efforts to eliminate anything other than puntive, border control measures have gone down, as have Democratic amendments designed to keep the bill from creating a massive “guest worker” program of illegal immigrants who are allowed temporarily to toil in low-wage jobs so long as they are deportable at some fixed point in the future.While I personally favor most of those Democratic amendments that are being defeated, the compromise is worth supporting, if it could actually become law. But the end-game that will come into play if the Senate passes a bill obviously involves an additional compromise between the Senate and House approaches.By refusing to sign on to a smooth-groove path for the compromise absent some assurances about the end-game, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid ultimately secured an agreement to cut Democrats, and members of the responsible bipartisan majority of the Judiciary Committee, into the conference committee. That’s why there are enough Senate Democrats willing to keep the compromise alive. But in the end, it won’t really matter if George W. Bush isn’t willing to use a veto threat and every other formal power he possesses, to make the compromise law, against the will of House Republicans. And if he won’t take definitive sides on immigration reform, then the whole excercise will be nothing more than another graphic illustration of the powerlessness to do good of the all-powerful Repubublican ascendancy in Washington.

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