Immigration reform is dead

Comprehensive immigration reform for 2010 and beyond is dead. There, I've said it. It is time to concentrate on alternative strategies.

As the founder of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, a movement that took thousands of Irish to Capitol Hill to lobby for reform, it gives me no pleasure whatsoever to say this.

I know first-hand of many Irish undocumented who live in fear that the knock on the door will come. They are very much in my thoughts as I write this.

But the math does not lie. There is no chance in hell that a filibuster-proof majority exists in the U.S. Senate for most anything right now, let alone immigration reform. The Senate is where American legislation goes to die.

It might be possible to squeak a bill by the House, but there are more than enough anti-reform votes in the Senate to block any hope of passage. That will not change.

For fifteen years or so, a great effort was undertaken to pass a comprehensive reform bill. It looked like the promised land when the Kennedy/McCain bill looked certain to gain passage in 2007, but a filibuster-proof majority never existed.

Now, there are even fewer votes despite a Democratic majority. It is time to ditch comprehensive reform and focus on parts of immigration reform that can pass.

The Dream Act is one, which would allow undocumented people who were brought here as children to become legal. It is cruel and unusual punishment to deport such people who, through no fault of their own, were brought here often as infants, and have known no other life.

Start by passing that, let's then look at what other areas we can address and adopt a piecemeal approach rather than a grand sweeping plan which has brought us nowhere.

The definition of madness is that we continue to do the same thing over and over hoping for a different result. It is time to stop the madness.

First, we must be honest and admit that there is no political future for comprehensive reform. Only then can we actually start to get legislation passed.