Saturday, November 14, 2009


I don't know for sure what to make of this, but I think (at least in part) it's about electoral politics:

The Obama administration will insist on measures to give legal status to an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants as it pushes early next year for legislation to overhaul the immigration system, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on Friday.

In her first major speech on the overhaul, Ms. Napolitano dispelled any suggestion that the administration -- with health care, energy and other major issues crowding its agenda -- would postpone the most contentious piece of immigration legislation until after midterm elections next November....

Does the president actually think he can get a bill passed next year? Or ever? In teabag-saturated America? I think he does believe that, in his usual optimistic fashion (though if so, I think he's incredibly naive) -- but I also think he wants to take up the fight now, rather than after the midterms, to increase Hispanic turnout in the midterms.

It could be worth it. It's going to get teabaggers even angrier, but can they be more motivated than they are now? The worry is that, in high-unemployment America, he's going to anger people who aren't usually actively outraged about immigration. (I'm operating on the assumption that no matter what the legislation says, 99% of America will believe the stereotyped representation of it from the anti-immigration right, and will therefore think it's all about giving away the store to those law-breaking Hispanics, who will then be allowed to take all our jobs legally.) Or maybe the conventional wisdom is right -- immigration stirs up a lot of sound and fury, but do big numbers actually vote on the issue? Did Tom Tancredo win the GOP nomination? (No, though I assume that if the 2008 nomination fight hadn't split in so many different ways, a litmus-test right-winger would have won rather than McCain.)

I can't guess at how this will fall out -- but I think it's about elections as much as policy.

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