Immigration under Obama vs. under a McCain presidency

Here is a rather bleak opinion piece for those of us who want to see borders closed, immigration severely curtailed and refugee resettlement reformed.    A leading publication for Immigration lawyers editorializes that if Obama should win, the Democrats in the White House and in Congress will be so busy changing everything  they won’t have time right away for immigration.

However, should McCain win, Congress and the White House will be at odds over (almost) everything, leaving only immigration reform (code for amnesty as in McCain/Kennedy) back on the front burner as the only thing the two branches of government would agree upon.

The entire editorial dated September 17 (could not find a perma-link so look for September 17th editorial) is below because it is so provocatively written I wanted you to see it all.

McCain Kennedy Reborn

If immigration is your number one political priority, what should you do this election?

We begin with the observation that Democrats will likely consolidate and expand their control of the Senate and the House. This is good news for the immigration cause. However, in spite of controlling Congress for the past two years Democrats have done virtually nothing on immigration benefits and have continued massive spending on immigration enforcement. So, even though most political analysts are agreed that Democrats are poised for significant gains in the House and the Senate, that alone does not portend any immigration benefits in the coming years.

With that background, let us examine the difference in prospects for immigration benefits on Jan 20, 2009 if we get President Obama or if we get President McCain.

If we get President Obama, Democrats are going to be euphoric on Jan 20, 2009, and rightly so – being back in the White House, at last, after 8 long and bitter years. Democrats have not been able to pursue their priorities for 8 years and we can expect them to act aggressively on their big priorities immediately after a President Obama takes office. There are at least four Democratic priorities ahead of immigration: the Iraq war, universal health care, budget/taxes and energy policy. These are all large, complex issues and Congress will take most of a President Obama’s first term to work on these. In such a scenario, we will not see any significant immigration benefits in the foreseeable future.

If we get President McCain, we will still have a powerful Democratic majority in Congress on Jan 20, 2009. This Congress will be at loggerheads with him on all the major Democratic priorities. Democrats will want to bring the troops home whereas Mr. McCain wants them in Iraq for 100 years; Democrats see a health care crisis whereas Mr. McCain sees none; Democrats will want increased taxes whereas Mr. McCain would like to cut them; Democrats want to conserve oil and work on alternative sources of power whereas Mr. McCain would like to drill for oil all over the map. Democrats and a President McCain will be 180 degrees apart on all major Democratic priorities. In this bitter fighting hardly anything will get done legislatively, and both Democrats and Mr. McCain will be looking for opportunities to show the country that they can work on something together.

While there are a few areas of agreement between Mr. McCain and Democrats, immigration is the largest issue on which Democrats and McCain agree. While the current Republican Party platform is the most anti-immigrant one in memory, there were news reports that Mr. McCain, who has a long track record of being pro-immigration, tried to make it more immigration-friendly and failed. This is the issue on which he is most likely to stab his party’s anti-immigrationist wing in the back both in his political interests and due to his own convictions (Mr. McCain had to fight his party’s anti-immigrationists tooth and nail during the Republican primaries). We expect to see almost all of the original McCain-Kennedy bill become law during the first six months of a McCain Presidency.

The Bush era has been the worst in memory for immigration advocates. However the combination of a powerful Democratic majority in Congress with Mr. McCain as President offers the best hope for speedily obtaining desperately needed immigration benefits.

Let’s hope Sarah will knock some sense into McCain’s head!

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