The latest fear mongering over immigration comes hot on the heels of the Boston bombing and shootout carried out by two brothers who came to America as kids.
The brothers Tsarnaev turned the country upside down with their bloody rampage, and also upset the political calculus in Washington where the immigration reform bill was beginning its hoped for path through Congress.
The immediate xenophobic response from senators such as Jeff Sessions of Alabama and David Vitter of Louisiana was to call for a slowdown on the immigration bill.
Old reliable Charles Grassley of Iowa soon jumped in, earning an extraordinary rebuke from New York Senator Charles Schumer, who appealed for common sense on the issue.
Alas, common sense is not all that common in the nether regions of the GOP, where a thinly concealed yearning and nostalgia for a return to all white male American rule is very evident.
Never mind that that aspiration passed long ago with the advent of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act.
Thankfully, Republicans like Senator Lindsey Graham and Congressman Paul Ryan stepped in with messages of moderation, pointing out that the new bill especially as it relates to oversight of asylum applications would make matters better rather than worse.
Ryan’s support for reform was declarative and impressive. It was delivered standing beside Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, a champion of reform for decades.
It proved that Ryan is not going to be outflanked on the issue by Senator Marco Rubio, his likely rival in 2016 for the GOP nomination.
It is heartening to note that many senior Republicans get it when it comes to reform, and that the party elders are seeking a way to make immigration reform work.
But the fact is that the aftermath of the Boston bombings shows how difficult it will be to steer the legislation through the Senate and House.
There is a visceral reaction to immigration in many quarters, and such sentiments are bound to spill out during the debate.
Having already conspired to losing out on even minimal gun control legislation, President Obama cannot afford another defeat on an issue of such vital importance to his agenda.
He might be wise to leave the heavy lifting to Schumer in the Senate, who has done a remarkable job to date in shepherding the bill to this point.
Immigration reform is achievable, but requires cool heads and a strategic bipartisan approach that minimizes name calling and emotional appeals.
There seemed little doubt that passage could be achieved prior to the Boston bombing. In the wake of the bombing anti-immigrant forces appear to have a second wind.
But cooler heads should still prevail. The alternative is a truly broken system that will continue to gnaw at the fabric of American life. Even immigration opponents must be made to see that reality.
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