Obama’s fatal flinch on immigration reform

Obama’s fatal flinch on immigration reform

May 1st, 2010

By Dana Milbank, Washington Post

Air Force One was about seven miles over Appalachia this week when President Obama dropped a bomb on his party.

Senate Democrats had that very day circulated an immigration reform proposal, and the Associated Press, receiving a leaked copy, reported on the “draft legislation.”

But as Obama returned to Washington from Illinois Wednesday night, he walked back to the press cabin on the presidential aircraft and, in an impromptu Q&A, essentially declared immigration reform dead. He said “there may not be an appetite” for it.

Obama’s retreat — after encouraging senators only weeks ago to take up immigration reform — clotheslined Senate Democrats. Since their proposal had already been leaked, they had no choice but to go ahead with the rollout of the plan Obama had just doomed. “I don’t know in what context the statement was made last night,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters at Thursday night’s rollout.

Well, Mr. Leader, the context is fear. As the Arizona abomination makes clear, there is a desperate need for federal immigration action to stop the country from turning into a nation of vigilantes suspicious of anybody with dark skin. But leaders on both sides have instead run for the hills, called there by the yodels from their respective extremes.

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