Since 2009, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has repeatedly promised “comprehensive immigration reform.” Schumer has consistently predicted that any day now or maybe next week or next summer, he’ll gather the necessary votes and amnesty will pass. The powerful Schumer is Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Refugees.
So it’s a triumph for our side that Schumer publicly admits that in 2012 an official Congressional amnesty (as opposed to the administrative one now in progress) is dead. Schumer’s statement cannot be considered shocking—this is after all an election year—but it must have pained him. In his State of the Union address, President Obama lamely urged passing comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act.
During his nearly thirty years in Congress, Schumer has advocated for every bill that would increase legal immigration, forgive illegal immigrants and has also supported new categories of non-immigrant worker visas. Had Schumer’s actions succeeded, U.S. population would have soared and America’s unemployment rate, already staggeringly high, would be into the well into double digits. If you were to rank immigration advocates, Schumer would be in the same league as infamous Senator Ted Kennedy and the pre-presidential candidate version of Senator John McCain.
In his State of the Union analysis he made the day after Obama’s speech, Schumer told The Hill:
“We need to look at immigration — we’re never going to get comprehensive this year without Republican support, and we don’t have it. But there are specific things that we can do on immigration that make some sense.” [Praise for Tax Reform but Skepticism from Congress on Energy, Immigration, by Alexander Bolton, The Hill, January 25, 2012]
That was Schumer’s segue into the DREAM Act, legislation so reviled that Obama didn’t mention it by name during his speech. Schumer said that, like comprehensive immigration reform, it too doesn’t have sufficient Congressional votes. Schumer blamed Republicans.
In Schumer’s evaluation of the DREAM Act, he minimized its unpopularity. During the ten years that the DREAM Act in all its manifestations has been rejected, Republicans or Democrats have at various times controlled the White House and both Congressional chambers. In other words, the DREAM Act has been rejected by Democrats and Republicans alike.
We can’t expect hard core immigration enthusiasts to throw their hands up in the air and shout: “We give up. You win.” But the president’s State of the Union and Schumer’s postmortem sounded comfortingly innocuous.
Still, we have a mountain of challenges that begin with the aforementioned administrative amnesty, the refusal from either side of the aisle to acknowledge the relationship between legal immigration and American job loss as well as the failure of the House to move the Legal Workforce Act forward to the floor for a vote.