Last week the Senate’s immigration bill — championed by George Bush, John McCain, and Ted Kennedy — collapsed under the pressure of a firestorm on conservative blogs and talk radio. Blogger and American Prospect writer Ezra Klein explained it to me this way: the bill had three interlocking parts that really represented three different consitutencies. The amnesty section was for many of the Democrats; the guestworker section was for business; and the enforcement section was for the “restrictionists.” Those restrictionists, Klein said, were the ones who stirred up the controversy that brought down the bill.
Immigration’s a fraught, gargantuan issue. And it’s one that splits both the Republicans and the Democrats. For this hour we want to understand the current politics in Washington and how they were influenced by the right-wing upheaval. But we also want to get a sense of the national conversation and mood beyond the Beltway and the blogosphere — to understand how it all might shake out in the 2008 presidential election. Is it possible to imagine productive forward momentum on immigration if this bill never revives? What’s the real problem here?
Executive Director, Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition