Immigration reform takes giant leap forward

By Daily Digger
Oregon Association of Nurseries
Nursery operators have long been strong backers of comprehensive immigration reform. Now, it appears that the president and members of both houses of Congress are getting on board as well.

Democrats and Republicans alike have taken note of the Nov. 6 election results, in which Latinos strongly favored Democractic candidates in most districts, and boosted President Barack Obama to re-election. Republicans now want to mend fences with Latino voters. Democrats, for their part, would like to deliver results for those who supported them.

President Obama promised supporters that immigration reform will be a key part of his second term agenda. “We need to seize the moment,” the president said today in his first press conference since winning the election.

Comprehensive immigration reform, as conceived by supporters, would provide stronger border security, a path to citizenship for those already in the country, and a dependable labor force for agriculture and other industries. Though this concept had strong support in the last decade from then-President George W. Bush and a bipartisan coalition led by two powerful figures — Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) — they could not get it passed.

When the economy crashed in 2007, the window for comprehensive reform closed. Bipartisan support, particularly on the right, could no longer be counted on. Many states such as Arizona and Georgia turned to state-based solutions that focused solely on enforcement. McCain, formerly a supporter of reform, became an opponent during his 2008 presidential campaign.

Considering the political landscape in Washington — Republicans controlling the House, Democrats controlling the Senate and the presidency — comprehensive reform can’t be achieved without the cooperation of both parties in both chambers of Congress, in tandem with the president. It appears that cooperation may come to fruition. McCain and other Republican senators are reportedly back on board. The public is, too, according to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll.

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