Immigration

IMMIGRATION….Michael Tomasky asks (in the same piece I highlighted this morning), “Why would Democrats, having finally regained control of the legislative calendar, schedule a vote that highlights their divisions?” Mickey Kaus responds:

Tomasky’s talking about abortion and gay marriage, but you could ask the same thing about legalizaton of illegal immigrants, no?

This is an interesting question. Consider the following:

  • For Democrats, immigration is almost as much a wedge issue as it is for Republicans. On balance, they’d probably benefit from passing comprehensive immigration reform, but not by much.

  • For Bush and Karl Rove, immigration reform was part of their long-term “realignment” strategy, a way to drain away traditional Latino support from Democrats and transfer it to Republicans. However, the Tom Tancredo wing of the party has torpedoed that dream for at least the next few decades, and passing a bipartisan bill won’t get it back. At this point, there’s not really much upside for Bush to continue picking a fight within his own party over this.

  • At his Wednesday press conference, Bush didn’t even mention immigration reform until a reporter reminded him at the tail end of the Q&A. “I appreciate you bringing that up,” he said. “I should have remembered it.” It sure doesn’t sound like immigration is exactly at the top of his mind right now, does it?

In other words, Mickey may be right. Democrats have bigger fish to fry and may be happy to avoid a fight by putting immigration on hold for a while. Ditto for Bush. My guess? It’s time for a bipartisan blue ribbon commission!