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Just In Time for the 2012 Election, It’s – Talk About Immigration Reform

The discussion across the political world is that the President is “in campaign mode,” as if that shuts off for one day between elections. They attribute the deficit reduction speech he gave last week to the kickoff to the 2012 campaign. But actually, the President has desired a grand bargain on the deficit since the moment he entered the Oval Office. That’s not really new. Rather, it’s this meeting that does reflect a crass effort to reconstitute the winning 2008 electoral coalition:

Obama is holding a meeting at the White House on Tuesday with current and former elected officials along with business and faith groups to discuss the “importance of fixing our nation’s broken immigration system for our 21st-century economic and national security needs,” according to his schedule.

Ahead of that meeting, the president insisted the fight for major immigration reform legislation is not yet over despite the fact Republicans, who are largely wary of current comprehensive proposals, made large gains in the 2010 midterm elections.

“The question is going to be, are we going to be able to find some Republicans who can partner with me and others to get this done once and for all, instead of using it as a political football?” he told Dallas-based WFAA-TV during one of four local television interviews on Monday.

And the answer is no. House Republicans won’t even host the annual Cinco de Mayo celebration in the Capitol. A comprehensive reform bill is a slightly heavier lift.

The actual question is whether it will work in the re-election campaign to get Hispanic voters hopeful of a comprehensive solution? I think the community would settle for not being targeted by ICE and DHS to the expanded degree that they have during the Obama Administration. But they’re not going to be fooled by happy talk about immigration reform. Not again.

This doesn’t mean that Hispanics won’t flock to Democrats and the President in large numbers in 2012. They did in key states in 2010 like Colorado and Nevada, preserving the Senate for the Democrats. And Republicans, as noted above, are pursuing the curious strategy of doing everything they can possibly think of to alienate the fastest-growing voting bloc in the country. In fact, Democrats have the Hispanic vote as their hole card in 2012. They want to use that vote to expand the map into Arizona and even Texas, preparing for the possibility of losing key Midwestern states where public opinion has turned against the President.

I guess that’s fine. But the discussion of immigration reform, as if it has a chance in the world, is really kind of craven. At least the President is honest enough to scrub any talk of climate change legislation over the past few months. But with the Hispanic community, false hope reigns supreme.

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David Dayen

David Dayen