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November 11, 2006

After Election, Can U.S. Reform Its Immigration System?

After Nov. 7, it will make enormous political sense for all sides to come together.

By Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek International, November 13, 2006

"If Iraq was the dominating topic of the election season in the United States, immigration is the issue that wasn't. Despite the efforts of populist and nativist politicians and pundits to whip up hysteria about a looming catastrophe, Americans didn't bite. In a news-week poll taken last week, voters listed immigration a distant fifth on their list of concerns—after Iraq, terrorism, the economy and health care.

Polling on immigration has been remarkably consistent over the past few years. The American public wants tighter enforcement of the laws but also realizes that the system now in place is unworkable. Consistent two-thirds majorities favor a comprehensive overhaul that would include tighter enforcement, but also guest-worker visas and a path to citizenship for illegal workers already in the country. This compromise package has the potential to be realized after the elections. After all, how many issues are there today on which George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Ted Kennedy and Rudy Giuliani all agree?

The great obstacle to immigration reform has been a noisy minority. Only about 20 percent of voters, mostly but not exclusively Republican, are dead set against a guest-worker program as well as any path to citizenship for illegals. But they are active primary voters, which means that their influence has been vastly enhanced (and exaggerated) during the campaign season. Come Tuesday, the party will be over. CNN's Lou Dobbs and his angry band of xenophobes will continue to rail, but a new Congress, with fewer Republicans and no impending primary elections, would make the climate much less vulnerable to the tyranny of the minority.

On the contrary, it will make enormous political sense for all sides to come together and cut a deal. To start with, President Bush needs to accomplish something. He has given only two Oval Office addresses on domestic policy—one on Social Security reform, the other on immigration. The first is dead. If he cannot enact his immigration plan, his second term will be void of any achievements...".

Posted by VisaLawyer at November 11, 2006 07:51 AM


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