Why "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" Won`t Go Forward: Obama`s Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words
March 20, 2009, 04:00 AM
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In January, I wrote two columns (here and here) predicting that I don`t see "comprehensive immigration reform" on the horizon any time soon.

But since political sands always shift and because I sense that among my patriotic immigration reform colleagues a foreboding once again overwhelms them, I`ll return to why I feel amnesty remains unlikely even in light of the recent unpleasant events.

Understandably, we`re nervous.

After all, we lost—albeit narrowly, 50-47—the motion to table Alabama Senator Jeff Session`s amendment to extend E-Verify for five years.

And on top of that disappointing setback, we`ve been subjected to non-stop stories and editorials about U.S. Representative Luis Gutierrez`s nationwide crying towel tour to shine the spotlight on illegal aliens` imagined plights, demands that Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio get the boot for enforcing federal immigration law and the Hispanic Caucus` meeting with President Barack Obama which it deceptively described as hugely successful.

I fully agree that all the ink the other side gets is troublesome. But this pro-alien publicity is business as usual as far as we`re concerned. It doesn`t for a second change the underlying facts: the Treason Lobby does not have the Senate votes to pass "comprehensive immigration reform".

If the Senate is so engulfed in turbidity that it decides to introduce legislation that promotes amnesty in any way, shape or form, it will fail—and it also may have the wonderful side effect of bringing down in 2010 some of the worst Congressional advocates for amnesty.

Here, as of today, is how things shape up.

From reading and analyzing various immigration law websites, I`ve assembled a composite picture of how our opponents evaluate their position in the wake of what it perceives as its E-Verify victory.

What follows here is a cobbled together version of their opinion, not mine.

  • When Sessions` amendment was brought to the floor, Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee (which will mark up CIR and other immigration bills) made a motion to table the amendment (in other words, to kill it without a direct vote on the amendment). This motion was agreed to by a vote of 50 yeas to 47 nays. Put another way, the anti-alien lobby was defeated by 2 votes.

  • When the time comes for the crucial cloture vote on CIR, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has the support of his caucus, even if it disagrees on the underlying bill.

  • Usually, majority leaders possess that support. In recent weeks, Reid has "valiantly stood up" to the anti-immigration lobby. Furthermore, many of the usual champions of immigration in the Republican Party will vote for cloture for CIR, lessening Reid`s reliance on the few Democrats who might defect.

  • Since E-Verify is crucial to the anti-immigration lobby, it is necessary for the proponents of immigration to hold it over as a bargaining chip when the time for CIR arrives, perhaps in late summer.

  • The Democratic leadership`s plan to now move on to health care reform (with a possible detour into yet another stimulus bill to come), and after that to take up immigration reform.

  • The Senate appears ready although House leadership is lukewarm. But the House is unlikely to drop the ball if the Senate drops it into its lap. While many believe that concerns about the economy may hold up immigration reform, Congress has now postponed action on immigration for so long despite the immigration  lawyers` opinion, expressed on ILW.com, that "no further deferral is politically possible or wise."

But obviously, the immigration lawyers underestimate the "anti-immigration lobby," and completely misinterpret the two swing votes.

(Remember as you read on that a "no" vote represents a "yes" for E-Verify.)

When you analyze the vote closely, seven Democrats joined Republicans in their "No" vote.

On a straight vote, we probably would have won. None of the 47 who supported our side would have defected. And at least a small handful would have found it too politically embarrassing to vote directly against E-Verify—thereby insulting American workers both employed and unemployed.

What killed Session` motion was backroom political maneuvering that led Reid and Leahy to table it.

Reid`s agenda is to shove through huge Democratic spending bills during Obama`s honeymoon period. In other words, get the billions while the getting is at its best.

Sessions` amendment provided a distraction that Reid wouldn`t tolerate.

Too many Obama Democrats—even though they support E-Verify—saw Sessions` amendment as a Republican effort to slow down Reid`s spending bill.

Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter may have cast one of the most telling "no" votes on the E-Verify amendment. Specter never votes with us. But this time he did.

Specter`s change of heart is easily understood. He knows—as do all the other 99 Senators—that Americans support E-Verify and the protection for American workers that it insures.

In 2010, Specter (along with 36 other Senate seats) is up for re-election. He`ll face a tough primary challenge that, if he survives it, will take him into an even tougher general election.

The last thing that Specter wants is to appear weak to Pennsylvania voters on American jobs.

To sum up, I`ll return to the immigration lawyers to count all the other places where they`re wrong.

  • E-Verify is too important to Americans to be used as a "bargaining chip"—and the Senate knows it.

  • Comprehensive immigration reform doesn`t have to be debated in "late summer" or at any other pre-determined time despite the claim that postponing further would be "unwise". In fact, the appetite for a long, heated Senate fight over immigration would be least likely if it were proposed immediately following health care—certain to be divisive and futile given that the government is broke.

  • Why is the House "unlikely to drop the ball"—meaning it would not pass a Senate amnesty sent to it for approval? Where`s the supporting evidence for that claim?

  • One more thing—to pass amnesty, the Senate needs 60 votes. If it had a deep commitment to immigration reform, more than 50 would have voted "yes" on Sessions` tabling motion.

Finally, I must comment on the supremely annoying Hispanic Caucus. (Watch the Coalition for the Future American Worker video here that targets Gutierrez`s anti-American agenda.)

Maybe you can get some much-needed good laughs out of this.

The Main Stream Media reported that during Obama`s meeting with the Caucus, he renewed his "campaign promise to tackle the immigration system."

Gutierrez came away saying: "The president said more than any of us expected him to say. He was clear, eloquent and determined in letting us know that we`re all together on the route to comprehensive immigration reform."[President Barack Obama Promises to Tackle Immigration System, by Laura Isensee, Dallas Morning News, March 18, 2009]

But here`s a more telling account from CongressDaily.

Its March 19 story titled "Immigration: Hispanic Caucus Says Obama Will Back Its Push for Overhaul Measure This Year," by Chris Strohm and George E. Condon Jr., included these paragraphs (emphasis added): 

  • "A congressional aide said Obama committed to work with the Hispanic Caucus and `start the process` of holding meetings and forums on immigration reform within the next few months."
     
  • "A White House aide said Obama will make a public statement on immigration reform `at some point.` But discussions at Wednesday`s meeting did not go into detail on the format for immigration forums, the aide added."

And

  • "It was not clear, however, if the White House would push congressional leaders to actually take up immigration reform legislation this year."

This is where comprehensive immigration reform really is: eventually a "process" will begin to hold "meetings and forums." And "at some point," Obama will make a "public statement" even though today there are "no details."

Sounds to me like the old check-is-in-the-mail double speak. No one on the other side should be holding his breath.

But should you have any remaining doubts about what Obama thinks about the Caucus, take a close look at his body language shown in this photo taken during the meeting.

Body language experts interpret that a hand placed over the mouth, as Obama is pictured doing, indicates negative impulses and disapproval. (Even more damning, it appears that other Hispanic participants are sleeping soundly.)

According to the experts, Obama looks like "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" is the last thing on his mind.

Joe Guzzardi [email him] is a California native who recently fled the state because of over-immigration, over-population and a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He has moved to Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the growth rate stable. A long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.