Arizona Immigration Law Puts CIR Back on Front Burner?

It is often said that it’s an ill wind that doesn’t blow some good to somebody. In this case, Arizona’s new and draconian immigration law may fan the embers of comprehensive immigration reform and turn up the heat on politicians who, up to now, have been cool to the idea.

The Washington Post reports that anger among Hispanics is reaching the boiling point after Arizona passed a bill requiring immigrants to be able to prove their legal status when police suspect they may be here illegally. (See Hispanics Urge Obama to Reform Immigration Laws, by Reuters, Washington Post, 26.Apr.2010.) Latino voters were a key part of the coalition that propelled Barack Obama to the White House, and their frustration has been growing in recent months as partisan wrangling over health care reform and financial reform seemed to put comprehensive immigration reform on the back burner until after mid-term elections this fall – even though candidate Obama had promised to address CIR in the first year of his presidency. However belatedly, the President may yet make good on his promise.

Over the weekend, pro-immigrant protests in Arizona and a welter of pronouncements from prominent Democratic lawmakers ratcheted up the pressure to act on CIR this year – and not without effect. Already under pressure in a tough re-election bid this year – in part from Hispanic voters – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has announced that immigration reform will be next up on the legislative calendar, after financial system reforms are enacted. (See Senate’s Reid Makes Immigration a Bigger Priority, Cokie Roberts and Renee Montagne, National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, 26.Apr.2010.)

Less clear is exactly which bill will be taken up. The Schumer-Graham bipartisan bill, though long-awaited, is still on the drawing board, and could stay there. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is widely reported to be furious that immigration reform is jumping ahead of the energy bill he has been working on with Senators Kerry (D-MA) and Lieberman (I-CT). It remains to be seen how this will affect the chances for a Schumer-Graham bill that could appeal to both sides of the aisle. The situation at present is very unpredictable and we will continue to track this issue, and keep our readers apprised.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.