Could Obama Compromise on Immigration Reform?

It appears to be that time of year again, you know the part, where Republicans introduce a bunch of sweeping policies, which are then picked apart by policy wonks and shown to be more of the same, lower taxes on the rich, cut spending on entitlements for the poor.  Along those lines, as I covered earlier, the House is crafting a plan on Immigration Reform. Though it doesn’t look like it could even pass the house that their own party controls, at least it shows that some people in the Republican party are serious about looking to be getting something done for immigrants. This is a marked improvement.

Assuming, somehow, that the bill were to pass the house, and the the Democratic controlled Senate, would President Obama be willing be accept the “sixth phase” of the plan, which would give America’s 12 million undocumented immigrants legal status, but not citizenship, a move that many on the left are suspicious would create a “permanent underclass” of people who are less-than the rest of us. As far as policies to make the Republican party look good with Hispanics, and hopefully capture more of their votes in the upcoming elections, this would seem to be a strange choice, in my opinion.

But Matt Yglesias at Slate disagrees with me completely:

“I think it would be genuinely a bit nutty for the president to refuse to sign a bill along these lines were it to pass congress. Immigrants and their families want a path to citizenship, and Democrats want new citizens who can vote for them, but legal status alone would be a boon to both unauthorized migrants and the national economy. If the bill were on Obama’s desk, I just don’t see how he could avoid signing it.”

I don’t know.

On the one hand, I genuinely don’t want to be a part of creating an underclass of Americans who are less than citizens. On the other hand, it’s hard to argue against the fact that bringing 12 million people into the fold, legally, would then make future reforms, possibly in a different political climate and with a more conducive makeup in congress, much easier. Not to mention the boon it would mean to our economy, where immigration is one of the lone bright spots over our Western contemporaries, but could be much, much better.

But maybe not! Maybe the Republican party will consider the issue “solved” if they agree to this “legal limbo” status, and be even less willing to talk about legalizing the 12 million.



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