The Precedent For Delaying Immigration Reform

Buried in Evan Soltas’ Bloomberg column on how ridiculous it is to treat the Boston bombings as an excuse for delaying congressional action on immigration reform is this fascinating data point that I’d totally forgotten about:

Terri Givens, an associate professor at the University of Texas with expertise in immigration policy and security, said that Republicans calling for delay have a strategy, and a precedent, in mind: the 9/11 attack. “9/11 took immigration reform off the agenda as everything switched to security,” Givens said.

“President George W. Bush had been crafting a guest-worker program with Mexican President Vicente Fox,” she said, “when 9/11 put Bush and Fox’s plans on hold for five years. When Bush finally put forward his immigration plan in 2006, it died in the Senate the next year.

Immigration reform was part of the original Bush-Rove menu of initiatives to boost Republican prospects among selected swing voters categories sufficiently to enable it to spend most of its time making the party’s conservative base voters and activists happy. 9/11 gave the GOP all sorts of other political weapons, but did throw off the original plan significantly.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.