As Ed pointed out yesterday, Sen. Rubio is hatching a plan to ‘charge up the middle’ on illegal immigration — and it might not be a moment too soon. The White House has already indicated that they are planning to go full-throttle on prioritizing the immigration issue in a second term, and it looks like those plan are already starting to take a more definite shape in the form of a comprehensive legislative package that critics will undoubtedly say looks an awful lot like amnesty, reports the NYT:
President Obama plans to push Congress to move quickly in the coming months on an ambitious overhaul of the immigration system that would include a path to citizenship for most of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, senior administration officials and lawmakers said last week.
The president and Democrats will also oppose measures that do not allow immigrants who gain legal status to become American citizens one day, the officials said.
… Mr. Obama and lawmakers from both parties believe that the early months of his second term offer the best prospects for passing substantial legislation on the issue.
… The White House will argue that its solution for illegal immigrants is not an amnesty, as many critics insist, because it would include fines, the payment of back taxes and other hurdles for illegal immigrants who would obtain legal status, the officials said.
I think it’s safe to say that plenty of the voting public can’t even summon the will to feign interest in the budget battles on the federal docket in the coming months, and President Obama is ready to use his campaign-like tactics to try and get people fired up about something again; that, combined with many GOP members’ post-election readiness to reassess their stances and not let the Democrats take the lead on a longstanding issue the country may finally be ready to tackle, might mean that this is the perfect political storm for movement on immigration.
Perhaps the White House will decide that it would behoove them to make the effort in a grandiose display of bipartisanship and convince everyone that the president really is capable of negotiating and getting big, meaningful things accomplished, but if given the chance, I’m sure they wouldn’t mind getting out in front of the issue and taking all the credit while highlighting more intra-Republican squabbles. The GOP can’t risk getting caught with their pants down on this, and they’ll need to have a workable alternative on hand — and it sounds like Sen. Rubio is hoping to lead on the issue and further prove his national mettle.