The battle to implement immigration reform cleared a major hurdle in the U.S. Senate Monday evening. In a 67-27 vote (4 Republicans and 2 Democrats did not vote due to being caught in travel delays), cloture was passed on the Leahy amendment to S. 744. All 53 Democrats present voted "yes", while Republicans voted "no" in a near 2-1 margin (27-14 to be exact).
For top Senate Dems like Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer, the goal for final passage of immigration reform is 70 "yea" votes. The reason for that threshold is simple: It would in essence send a message to the U.S. House that this bill has strong bipartisan support. Failure to pass this bill, House Republicans, and you'll once again be in the minority. You'll recall the gun control fight a few months ago where there needed to be sixty yea votes in the Senate in order to pass the legislation being debated. The idea was that the GOP-controlled House would then not pass such a measure, a fact that could be used against them in the 2014 election cycle. As such, the Dems hoped to regain the majority in the House and thus allow President Obama to have carte blanche the final two years of his Presidency (just like he had the first two years). But that strategy was foiled when the Senate did not attain the necessary sixty votes. However, that doesn't appear to be the case for S.744.
What's most infuriating to me about this whole saga in the continued ineptitude in Washington regarding immigration law already on the books. The fact is any non-citizens who are in the U.S. illegally are, by law, supposed to be deported back to their home country. But since the Federal government and its layers of bureaucracy are so inefficient (they can't even efficiently operate the US Postal Service for crying out loud), laws aren't enforced and suddenly it's a free-for-all for illegal aliens. And when laws are suddenly treated as mere suggestions, you have a president who hands down an executive order allowing illegal aliens under age 30 to stay in the country indefinitely, provided they haven't committed a crime (the fact they're in the U.S. illegally apparently doesn't weigh in). I guess that was President Obama's way of strong-arming Congress into passing a law that, once again, will be so monstrous and complex that it too will likely not be enforced properly.
Many of my fellow conservatives fear that if indeed this current legislation is passed, it will create a whole new voter group for Democrats which may result in a Republican never again being elected President of the United States. While I understand that concern, that just is not nearly a sufficient enough reason to maintain the status quo.
There's no question the immigration system needs to be fixed. Unfortunately, as is all too often the case, the issue at hand is not being engaged because it's the right thing to do. No, it appears that this is yet another issue where the temptation of political opportunity will trump practicality.