The Year In: Immigration


If there's one issue liberals really screwed up this year, it's immigration. On the same day the House of Representatives passed health care reform, a massive march for immigration reform flooded the National Mall. Turning next to fixing our broken immigration system, TAP argued, was the logical next move. Alas, Democrats disagreed. But, as Adam Serwer noted, the administration's failure to make headway on immigration reform may cause Democrats to lose the growing Hispanic vote.

In April, Arizona passed SB 1070, which empowered police officers to stop and demand proof of citizenship from anyone they suspected of being in the country illegally, without requiring probable cause of another crime. As it turns out, we have the private prison industry as well as racial animus to thank for the law. Although the Justice Department stepped in at the last minute to contest the Arizona law, other states have looked to replicate this type of discriminatory screening.

Progressives are partly to blame for the nation's rightward swing on immigration issues. President Obama embraced conservatives' enforcement rhetoric by ramping up deportations without prioritizing reform. This was a self-defeating approach: by buying into a harsh enforcement paradigm, he made the argument for reform much harder.

Even the overwhelmingly-popular DREAM Act -- a bill that would have created a path to citizenship for children brought to the United States illegally by their parents if they fulfilled educational or military-service requirements -- recently failed in the Senate.

President Obama has been so willing to bargain -- remember climate change and tax reform -- that he often shows his hand before the game even begins. In 2010, Democrats learned this lesson the hard way; let's hope 2011 is better.

--Monica Potts
(Agencia Estado via AP Images)