Immigration reform was once a real thing on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers huddled in secret; political risks were calculated and taken; tentative deals were struck. But now, despite some suggestions from Sen. Chuck Schumer about a lame-duck legislative fix, there’s really no chance of an overhaul of the dreadful U.S. immigration system. The groups lobbying for reform have failed to gain traction with their strategy of shaming Republicans into action, leaving advocates confused and conflicted about where to go next.
Indeed, many say that at this point, they don’t even know what they’re fighting for. Very few will say it on the record, but Arnoldo Torres will. “I don’t know what all of this is about anymore,” says the former executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens who played a major role in the 1986 immigration law that offered amnesty to 3 million unauthorized immigrants. “I don’t think our side knows what it wants to do anymore.”
Ask the question, and you’ll understand what Torres means. Some reform advocates talk about pushing for piecemeal legislative fixes — a series of bills that would address citizenship for undocumented youth, legalization for other unauthorized immigrants, and more visas for high-skilled foreigners, for example. Others, especially those based outside of Washington, think the most effective move is to pressure the White House for an executive order that would provide immediate deportation relief to a bigger pool of undocumented immigrants than the “Dreamers” who were brought into the country illegally as children.
Count Arturo Carmona, executive director of the left-leaning Presente.org, among the latter group. He has given up on a new law and is now focusing solely on President Obama. Carmona says many reform advocates have become tainted by an inside-Washington thought process that feeds the fruitless hope that dynamics in Congress will suddenly shift.
Presente.org and other supporters of executive action bet that if Obama expands his deferred-deportation program to a broader population, Republicans won’t dare stand in the way. They see this strategy as a bold, in-your-face idea, but it’s not one that all advocates back.
Those who still want to curry favor with pro-immigration Republicans say Obama shouldn’t intentionally irritate the GOP with yet another controversial administrative action. And still others who are eager to keep the White House listening to them say that pressuring Obama to act on his own is akin to fouling one’s own nest, when the president’s opponents in Congress are in fact the ones at fault.
Most immigration-reform groups are somewhere in the middle, in effect acknowledging that nothing they do will result in either a big immigration bill this year or dramatic executive action. What’s most likely to happen is that Obama will offer some type of deportation fix at the end of the summer, but not enough of one to be called massive relief for the people here illegally. That would leave those in the advocacy community in more or less the same place they are now, unsatisfied and wondering what to ask for next.
“We’re fully focused on pressuring Obama to expand deferred action, but we don’t expect it to be very much,” concedes Mario Carrillo, spokesman for United We Dream, an organization of immigrant youth seeking administrative action. “When that happens, we’ll make sure our views are heard that it will not be enough.”
For the next Congress, the advocacy strategy, such as it is, will depend almost entirely on the results of the midterms. If Latino voters can show they can swing at least a few elections, as they did in 2014, they will have made a powerful statement to any politician seeking the White House: Be willing to fix immigration, or we walk. That message will resonate the most with GOP presidential candidates, who will need Hispanic support if they expect to win a general election. But it couldn’t hurt to pressure the Democratic candidates, either.
The problems with relying on the midterms are twofold, as advocates readily admit. First, getting Latino voters to the polls this November will not be as easy as it was in the last presidential election. Second, even if Latino voters make waves in 2014, they probably will not hand lawmakers a road map to follow.
The lack of a clear and unified approach weakens the reform movement. Individual players will probably struggle for a while as the overall game plan shifts from what was solely a legislative strategy to one that is, by necessity, a multipronged campaign to leverage pressure from the White House to Congress and back. It makes for high-stakes maneuvering that no one entirely understands or can control. The only real certainty is that the issue won’t go away.
In the meantime, those who want immigration reform continue their protests, something Torres disdains. Protests communicate just one thing, he says: “Anger, anger, anger, anger.” Anger, he adds, is not a policy solution.
What We're Following See More »
Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”