The Common Good

The Immigration Saga Continues

Date: January 20, 2013

President Obama and lawmakers of both parties have begun laying the groundwork for something that is supposed to be unachievable in Washington today: a bipartisan deal to solve a bitterly contentious, complicated problem in a big way.

The talk is of immigration reform, a once-in-a-generation overhaul of an outdated system that turns away too many skilled and eager workers, separates too many families and keeps too many millions of undocumented people at the edges of society, unable to get right with the law.

The outlines of reform have long been clear: more visas, a more secure border, better-regulated workplaces, more protections for workers' rights and - the key to everything - legalization and eventual citizenship for 11 million unauthorized immigrants living in limbo. The only thing missing is a deal.

Evangelical leaders, business groups, labor unions and the well-organized young advocates known as Dreamers are ready to urge on deal makers in Congress. Hope is running high. Our big fear is that Mr. Obama and the Republicans are merely getting ready to blame each other if a deal blows up, setting back reform several more years.

But some things argue against pessimism: the resounding election message, pressure from Americans who want the immigration system fixed, and the possibility that enough Congressional Republicans want to begin winning back the Latino vote that so many in their party have been working so hard to drive way.