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Old 09-24-2008, 08:27 PM
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Interesting Analysis from Greg Siskind

http://blogs.ilw.com/gregsiskind/

COULD ELECTION YEAR POLITICS HELP RECAPTURE BILL'S CHANCES?
Yesterday, I wrote about a great bill that was introduced by Senator Menendez that would recapture hundreds of thousands of unused green card numbers, ease the strict per country limits that cause long lines for nationals of some countries and also make it easier to get a waiver when someone is subject to an unlawful presence bar.It also changes the definition of an "immediate relative" to include spouses and children of permanent residents, a provision which would be wildly popular in the Hispanic community since it would cut out the multiyear waits typical in the Family 2A category.

And, oh yeah, there's another bill that people are talking about. The E-Verify program (DHS' much discussed electronic employment verification system) expires in November.

E-Verify is the heart of the entire enforcement agenda for the antis and with Congress set to adjourn in the next week or so and with the distinct possibility that this will put off all legislation until next February or so when the new Congress comes in, getting E-Verify extended in the next few days is a huge deal. A five year extension has passed the House already. The Senate has done nothing yet.

So it was with great interest that I read in yesterday's CQ Today print edition that Senator Menendez is blocking the E-Verify reauthorization bill in order to force consideration of the recapture bill. The article describes Republicans as being infuriated and saying that the recapture bill is a nonstarter and demanding Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid bring up a clean E-Verify extension bill.

On the House side, interestingly, the recapture bill was set for a markup in the Judiciary Committee yesterday and Congressman Conyers abruptly adjourned the hearing after a bill barring horse slaughtering was finished yesterday. According to my sources, several members of the Committee were shocked that the markup on the recapture bill didn't happen even though Conyers is a strong backer of the measure. Strange.

So that has me speculating. Is something cooking with the Democratic leadership and the Obama campaign? I think the Democrats smell blood. They know John McCain is in trouble with Hispanic voters based on recent polling data. He's polling anywhere from 10 to 20 points worse than Bush did in 2004 and the Hispanic vote partially explains why Obama finds himself ahead in places like New Mexico and Colorado, states Bush won in 2004. Erosion of support in the Hispanic community could also cost McCain Florida, a state McCain cannot lose if he has any chance of winning the election.

As I reported earlier this week, the McCain campaign and congressional leaders have been clamping down on the anti-immigrant wing of the party. You didn't really think these folks suddenly decided they no longer care about this issue, did you?

What I don't think is a coincidence is the sudden reemergence of immigration in the presidential debate. Suddenly, Obama is blasting McCain on immigration and looking for more and more forums to make his claim that he's pro-immigration and his party's solidly behind him. And he's quick to remind Latinos that John McCain turned his back on them and denounced his own comprehensive immigration reform bill, something that Latino voters are now saying is one their top priorities.

McCain is asking Latino voters for a do-over and claiming that he was only pandering to his base. He was always pro-immigration. It's just politics, you understand.

As you might expect, this message is not selling particularly well. And Democrats know it. They also know that with the economy in free fall, most Americans are not thinking that much about immigration anymore and the issue has dropped back to its historically low rank on issues of concern to the typical voter. So Democrats can be more visibly pro-immigration without having to fear negative consequences.

You probably see where this is going. Provoking a confrontation over immigration with Republicans in the month of October can only have good results. Democrats might actually pass a bill they really want. And they score politically as well.

There's no time to bring up a massive comprehensive immigration reform bill between now and the election. Something smaller and simpler, but what? Oh wait, there's that recapture bill! And there's that must pass E-Verify bill. Now there's a great way to put immigration back on the front pages. Link the two and force Republicans to vote no on a pro-immigration bill likely to have a hugely positive impact in the Hispanic community if they want the E-Verify program to survive. If the Democrats can keep the two bills linked, Republicans who can't stomach more immigration will have to vote no on E-Verify, something they'll have trouble explaining to their constituents. And Republicans who think E-Verify is too important to die, will help deliver a win on the recapture bill.

And in the mean time, McCain will have to openly confront the angry antis in his party. Some of the hardliners in his party will call the provisions easing the unlawful presence waivers to be a "back door amnesty." If McCain goes against them, he'll be seen as a liar by the people in his party who he promised that he would not support an "amnesty" without enforcement first. And if he votes with the antis, it will be all the Hispanic community needs to hear to confirm they're right to support Obama.

October could be interesting.
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