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Beyond the poisoned well: immigration reform tactics changing

President Obama has not given up on enacting comprehensive immigration reform.

To be sure, there is concern in Washington, DC and around the country that the partisan wrangling over the partial federal government shutdown “poisoned the well” of good will that may be needed to get the president and both chambers of Congress to agree on a specific proposal.

That is one reason why it may be necessary to break up the proposal passed by the Senate earlier this year into several different smaller bills. The smaller bills could tackle specific issues such as work visas or family immigration.

This week, there were indications that President Obama may be coming around to that point of view.

After the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill in June, the hope was that the U.S. House of Representatives would take up that bill. But the House did not do so. And now, after the passage of several months and the reality-check of the shutdown, the president appears to be shifting his tactics.

President Obama said this week that he is open to proposals from Republicans about possibly dividing up an immigration overhaul into several separate parts.

In political terms, it may be more practical to pass one or more of those parts than to keep holding out for a comprehensive reform that addresses all of the issues, all at once.

Of course, in either form — either comprehensive or broken into separate parts — it will take considerable political capital and probably some (often elusive) compromise to actually pass immigration reform. But President Obama is clearly still committed to making such reform one of the top priorities of his second term.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Obama softens tone on immigration reform,” Brian Bennett and Christi Parsons, Oct. 24, 2013

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