Immigration: Next Hot Button Issue for White House

Immigration reform has been pegged as the next big political battleground, according to an editorial in The Chicago Tribune and reports by CNN. Though it was overshadowed by the health care reform negotiations, advocates say a national march on Sunday, March 21, in Washington, DC, demanding immigration reform has set the stage for a move toward reforming the America’s immigration law.

“This is the only issue area that had a concerted movement behind it,” said Martine Apodaca, communications director at the National Immigrant Forum, which organized Sunday’s march.

The march, which brought more than 150,000 people out to Washington’s Mall, followed the announcement of a new plan sponsored by Sens. Charles Schumer (D-New York) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina). Their blueprint would offer a path to legalization, as well as a temporary worker program and tighter border controls.

President Obama said he would only consider working on immigration reform legislation if it had bipartisan support.

However, some roadblocks remain. In a statement March 19, Graham said: “The first casualty of the Democratic health care bill will be immigration reform. If the health care bill goes through this weekend, that will, in my view, pretty much kill any chance of immigration reform passing the Senate this year.”

The issue of immigration reform has been sidelined since the Bush administration failed to push through its proposal in 2007. His bill was also a bipartisan effort and supported a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants, but it died with a Senate filibuster at a time when the US unemployment rate was less than 5 percent.

However, as The Chicago Tribune editorial states, the push from below is clear: “Their message, punctuated by Sunday’s meet-up, was not subtle: Get off the dime or lose the support of the growing Latino electorate.”