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Preemptive Compromise

As long as there's a Republican anywhere in this country, the Democrats will find a way to compromise with him. We're less than two weeks out from an election in which the Dems are expected to pick up the presidency, add 15-30 seats to their majority in the house, and have a small but realistic shot at 60 in the Senate. So why would you preemptively compromise your goals for immigration reform (via Man Eegee)?

Any solution would have to be bipartisan, she said, so it may require sacrificing some of Democrats' past priorities, such as giving illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.

"Maybe there never is a path to citizenship if you came here illegally," Pelosi said. "I would hope that there could be, but maybe there isn't."

What really gets me is how wistful and passive she seems about the bill's chances. I'd understand that kind of attitude coming from a disappointed voter. But perhaps someone needs to remind Ms. Pelosi that, as Speaker of the House, she (along with Barack Obama and Harry Reid (or possibly Chris Dodd or Hillary Clinton if there's a leadership struggle)) is one of the three people in this country with the most power to determine whether an immigration bill contains a path to citizenship.

The 2007 immigration bill was already deeply compromised, loaded down with harsh enforcement crackdowns and with a path to citizenship that had so many unrealistic conditions as to make it largely theoretical. And that bill nearly passed a more GOP-heavy Congress than what we'll have in 2009. So you'd think that if the "Democrats are more progressive than Republicans" hypothesis is true, the Dem leadership's first offer for a new bill would be more progressive than the 2007 bill. I opposed the 2007 bill because I thought it would, on balance, make our immigration system worse off, but I know lots of progressives disagreed with me. I realize a lot of my preferred reforms -- greatly expanded legal immigration, elimination of most crime-based reasons for deportability, trade reform with sender countries, elimination of pre-trial detention -- are politically unrealistic even with big Democratic majorities in Congress. But if you give up the path to citizenship, what's left for progressives in an immigration bill?


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