You Could Have Heard it Here First: "Comprehensive Immigration Reform WILL PASS This Year"
I posted here a little diary about Comprehensive Immigration Reform being the clear favorite issue Democrats were about to push. AND, in fact, turning it around from a wedge issue for Republican racists to a wedge issue for tolerant Democrats.
And now Obama is jumping on board after Schumer (who was there at the event I covered) got the ball rolling.
Well, I was right. It is happening just as I outlined. From my previous blog entry where I broke the news that immigration reform was going to be on the table this year in a big way:
Three out of the four prime mayoral candidates were there last night: NYC Comptroller John Liu (a friend of mine), former NYC Comptroller Bill Thompson (who I actively campaigned for last time around), and Councilmember Christine Quinn (who I consider HUGELY corrupt). Two really notable absences were the only mayoral candidate actually from Brooklyn (Bill de Blasio who is at least as corrupt as Christine Quinn) and the current head of the Brooklyn Democratic Party (and Vito Lopez's handpicked but so far more transparent successor) Frank Seddio. These absences were very much noted by insiders at the event...
Many liberal talking points were hit upon by many of the speakers at Nydia's community swearing in ceremony. A sampling can be taken from the three mayoral candidates who attended the Congresswoman's event.
Councilmember Christine Quinn emphasized the amazing leadership Nydia has taken within the Latino/a community for LGBT rights. Though I think it was Councilmember Rosie Mendez (I think!) who emphasized the depth of the role Nydia took on this issue. It actually was Nydia who led the movement of Latinas publicly advocating for marriage equality that helped blunt this as a wedge issue the Republicans could wield. Nydia went a LONG WAY to make marriage equality acceptable within the Latino community.
Comptroller John Liu emphasized two issues: immigration and small businesses. These are two issues both John and Nydia are VERY strong on. Liu was the first (I believe) to bring up Comprehensive Immigration Reform. He also was the first (I believe) to refer to Nydia as "La Luchadora" and said that in this context we all should expect that THIS YEAR Nydia in particular will get comprehensive immigration reform passed in Congress.
If I read this correctly, it seems that the Democratic Leadership is prepared to release La Luchadora on this issue. It was pointed out that this is not necessarily an issue that would be as dear to Nydia's heart as it is to John's (John is an immigrant from Taiwan who moved to America at age 5). Nydia was born an American citizen in Puerto Rico and, as someone put, could just as easily push aside immigration issues. Instead she has taken it as her cause for this year, aiming to make the DEFINITIVE difference for Immigration Reform THIS YEAR.
On small businesses both Comptroller John Liu on the local level (if he is elected mayor) and Congresswoman Velazquez Federally advocate shifting a large part of the money that we currently put into big corporations (like all those "too big to fail" failures) and instead putting it into revitalizing small businesses (who are the REAL job creators).
Former Comptroller Bill Thompson emphasized a note that almost everyone else at Nydia's event touched on: inspiration. Nydia has been the inspiration to so many women in general and so many Latinas in particular. But Bill Thompson (as well as my Congresswoman Yvette Clarke) emphasized Nydia's ability to inspire EVERYONE, man or woman, Latina or black or whatever ( I hope his mayoral campaign is inspired to be more inspiring this time around!). Someone else (I want to say Rosie Mendez but it could have been dozens of other speakers!) said that many women leaders are standing on Nydia's shoulders and Nydia does not just break glass ceilings, she reaches down and lifts others onto her own shoulders above those glass ceilings. Even Sonia Sotomayor was portrayed as standing on Nydia's shoulders.
Once Comptroller John Liu brought up immigration reform, it became an emphasized refrain. And that refrain, repeated often including by La Luchadora herself, was "We WILL Pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform THIS YEAR."
And Nydia emphasized that, as with marriage equality, this is no longer a wedge issue the Republicans can use effectively. In fact, she believes this is now a wedge issue the Democrats can use to divide the Republicans. She believes the Repubs will have to join in immigration reform (kicking and screaming of course) because if they don't they will condemn themselves to minority status in Congress for many years to come. We are winning these issues thanks to the long-standing efforts of the likes of Nydia.
Personally, I am unconvinced it will be done this year, but I do see at this moment a MAJOR turning point, and EVENTUALLY this will be a major wedge issue the Democrats can and WILL use...and, as usual, it is La Luchadora who is in the lead.
I find it interesting that Schumer has been at the head of this. Now starting in the Senate makes sense since Democrats control the Senate. But Nydia has the ear of Schumer and at Nydia's swearing in half the attendees focused on immigration reform as an issue Nydia would make sure got done this year.
I strongly suspect Nydia had already set the ball in motion and we are now seeing the first manifestations of her push. I was unconvinced about our chances of success before Democrats retake the House. But faster than I expected things are in motion. Maybe the Republicans are more scared than they have so far admitted than immigration is now a losing issue for them and the DEMOCRATS can make it a wedge issue, just like Nydia Velazquez and John Liu predicted.