Harry Reid Holds Out Hope for Immigration Reform

The larger question is what will immigration advocates demand, and what will they capitulate on?

By Julianne Hing Jan 19, 2011

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid still thinks Congress can deliver immigration reform, The Hill reported Wednesday.

Reid said that tax reform and spending were his other top priorities for this Congress. Reid was a primary backer of the DREAM Act and at the urging of an aggressive immigrant youth movement stuck by the bill even though it eventually failed a cloture vote in the final days of the last Congress. From The Hill:

"I think the answer is unequivocally yes, I think we can get something done," Reid said of the prospects for immigration reform. "The tide is turning on this. This is not something that is going to be a lost program; we’re going to get this done."

With a Republican party unwilling to offer any sort of legalization avenues until "the borders are secure," as Arizona Sen. John McCain and other Republicans often say, immigration reform is unlikely to be anything but more of the same punitive measures that focus on enforcement without addressing underlying systemic problems with the immigration system. His commitment is admirable but Reid will not win political points for promising things he cannot realistically deliver.

The larger question then becomes what will immigration advocates and their congressional allies demand, and what will they capitulate on? These days even staunch immigrant community allies like Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez have quieted calls for reform. These days Gutierrez wants something quick and actionable and concrete: an immediate moratorium on deportations.