It was bound to happen as the post-election afterglow faded: A reality check on the high hopes for immigration reform in the wake of President Obama's reelection.
There's been talk since of a renewed push for comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to legal status for those who live illegally in this country. Some Republican leaders have advocated immigrant-friendly reforms in hopes of reaching out to much-desired Latino voters, while Obama supporters who'd backed the president based on his recent decision to grant temporary legal status to some young immigrants are calling on him to deliver a permanent policy. As tends to happen, other matters can get in the way.
Take the looming fiscal cliff, for instance. Reuters offers a good analysis on how Congress' wrangling over the tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect early next year will take precedence over other policy issues, among them immigration. From the piece:
However sympathetic Obama might be, he will be preoccupied with fiscal battles well into next year and less likely to engage in the kind of salesmanship analysts believe is essential to sell broad immigration policy changes to the public.
And Republicans in Congress, as a group, may not be eager to reverse long-held and deeply felt positions on immigration in an era when so many are vulnerable to primary election challenges from the right. Plus, they may be just as consumed by fiscal issues as the rest of Washington.
On the latter, NPR has a story providing another kind of political reality check. While several GOP leaders have called for a more lenient immigration stance after Obama defeated Republican challenger Mitt Romney, largely with the help of Latino, black, and Asian American voters, it's unlikely that other Republican members of Congress will follow suit. From that piece:
So far, the new esprit de corps hasn't spread to Republicans on the House immigration subcommittee, which could act as the conservative firewall against new legislation. The committee is packed with members who support limited immigration and oppose legal status for illegal immigrants.
The retirement of subcommittee chairman Elton Gallegly, R-Calif., at the end of the year could lead to the elevation of vice chairman Steve King, R-Iowa. King has been an archenemy of immigrant advocates and last year introduced a bill to eliminate automatic citizenship for children born in the United States to illegal immigrants.
A recent CBS News story outlined potential obstacles to GOP-backed immigration reforms along similar lines. A House GOP bill scheduled for a vote soon would expand access to visas for international science and technology students, along with a program that makes it easier for spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents to obtain green cards, but its scope is limited.