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Angelo Paparelli on Dysfunctional Government

Must We Downsize Hopes for Full-Bodied Immigration Reform?

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The week's news dealt a body-blow to the prospects for comprehensive immigration reform, as if the movement to fix our broken immigration laws were blind-sided in a collision with a former pinup driving a pickup -- which it was.  With the election of new Massachusetts Senator, Scott Brown, to take the seat of the late Ted Kennedy, the godfather of more humane and just immigration laws, supporters of CIR (Comprehensive Immigration Reform) are swallowing their sadness and putting on their game faces, saying there's still no stopping the CIR train from arriving at its destination.


It's hard to maintain optimism, however, as President Obama's pledge to move on CIR within his first year in office reached its anniversary and expired.  Worse yet, soundings from the White House suggest that the Administration will wait for Congress to take the lead on CIR. 


There's no telling what Congress will do as Democrats remain engaged in trying to put the wheels back on health-care legislation.  Already a group of Republicans and Democrats are building a BRIDGE that would offer no footpath, however tortuous, to citizenship for the undocumented (BRIDGE being the syntax-shattering formal name of H. Res. 1026, the Bipartisan Reform of Immigration through Defining Good Enforcement resolution). Adding to the pessimism, Sen. Kennedy's erstwhile CIR partner, Sen. John McCain, although still assertedly a CIR supporter, offers doubts that it will come to pass in this election year.


Throwing a clanking crowbar into the wheels, the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision will allow anti- and pro-CIR organizations to spend unlimited funds, unleashed from the prior restraints of the Federal Election Commission's spending caps. While some in the pro-CIR camp view the ruling as a positive development, the greater likelihood is that the opponents of CIR will offer untruths on the economic harms of CIR to frighten a financially-beleaguered citizenry who still favor CIR.


While we wait to see if the CIRistas can outjump Evel Knievel, there is still the possibility, however, for the undocumented to try and remain longer in the hopes that CIR someday will arrive, especially if they can "lawyer up."  SCOTUS ruled this week that even though Congress has the power to strip the courts of jurisdiction to review discretionary immigration-agency decisions, the Executive Branch may not, by regulation, label its actions "discretionary" and thereby prevent immigrants from seeking justice in federal court.


So, the wheels on the CIR bus go round and round . . . all year long.

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