Upon taking office, President Obama signaled that he was serious about passing comprehensive immigration reform, a task that had frustrated George W. Bush. But he also made clear that the effort was not a Year One priority. To lay the groundwork, the Department of Homeland Security stepped up its border patrols and enforcement of employers who hire illegal workers. On Nov. 13, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced, "When Congress is ready to act, we will be ready to support them."
But it is not clear where Obama goes from here. House Democratic leadership does not relish the thought of making its most vulnerable members take a hard vote this summer, just months before the midterms, on an issue that is sure to rile the Republican base. In the Senate, meanwhile, there have been few signs that Republican moderates are excited about taking on the issue (and the party's well-organized base) in an election year. With the economy still struggling and health care reform on the ropes, the betting money is that Obama is still a long way from realizing his immigration goals.
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