Spencer S. Hsu
February 1, 2010
As President Obama vows to refocus Democrats’ attention on jobs and the economy, advocates for overhauling the nation’s immigration laws say they are still gearing up for a battle in the Senate in coming weeks, despite fading hopes for victory.
[efoods]Washington’s drawn-out health-care debate badly damaged prospects for an immigration bill this winter. It ate up weeks of the Senate’s time, sapped progressive lawmakers’ energy and, most recently, stoked a populist backlash that cost Democrats the seat of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.), the chamber’s most prominent champion of liberal health-care and immigration policies.
With time running out before lawmakers want to start focusing on the November elections, “immigration is deader than a doornail,” one veteran Senate lobbyist put it. Advocates’ frustration peaked last week when Obama devoted a single sentence in his 71-minute State of the Union address to a topic he ranked as a top legislative priority last summer, after health care and an energy bill.
“We should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system,” Obama said, offering no specific remedy or timing, “. . . and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nation.”