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Clash of Reform Bills: Climate Change vs Immigration

April 27, 2010

Looks like the Senate Climate change bill, which was supposed to be introduced today is heading to dooms-ville, at least for now. The bill which was being authored by senators John Kerry, Lindsey Graham and Lieberman, was a result of collaborative efforts between politicians, environmentalists, industry partners and oil companies.The bill, if introduced in the Senate had some chance of passing to the next level due to tri-partisan efforts by the authors of the bill. Senator Lindsey Graham was the lone supporter from Republicans but he was getting the heat from his fellow party members and ultimately he caved in this weekend and decided to pull off the support. The blame also lies on Democrats part as they started pushing for immigration reforms motivated by political gains (as they are eyeing on upcoming elections in Nevada). Immigration reforms are needed but timing of pushing the bill,I guess, was not right. Senator Lindsey Graham was opposed to this immediate pushing of Immigration reforms and ultimately pulled out of the Cimate Change Bill and the introduction of the proposed bill has now been postponed sine die. So here goes in vain all bi or tri-partisan efforts; partisan politics trumps climate reforms. Both the issues, immigration and climate change reforms, are important and it’s sad that one issue is leading to demise of the other. For climate change, background work has been done by bringing various stakeholders together and chances of getting it to next level were good this year but for immigration reforms the background work has not even started as of now. Still hoping the bill to be introduced this year. It’s ironic that just few days after the celebration of 40th anniversary of Earth Day, much awaited climate change bill seems to be hitting the dead end even before the discussion started.

Talking about immigration reforms, what prompted Democrats to focus on immigration with such an emergency? The reason lies in the controversial immigration law passed by Arizona last week which requires all immigrants to carry immigration documents with them, failure to show the document can end them up in jail. According to NYtimes:

The bill requires police officers, “when practicable,” to detain people they reasonably suspect are in the country without authorization and to verify their status with federal officials, unless doing so would hinder an investigation or emergency medical treatment.It also makes it a state crime — a misdemeanor — to not carry immigration papers. In addition, it allows people to sue local government or agencies if they believe federal or state immigration law is not being enforced.

The bill has caused furor all over Arizona including other parts of the country forcing Democrats to focus on immigration reform as Senate majority leader Harry Reid is facing re-election this year and immigration issue is more politically saleable for election purposes than climate reforms. This ultimately led Lindsey Graham to walk off the climate bill. Way to go Politicians!! Here is a nice article by Paul Krugman about how both the parties look at the immigration issue differently. According to him:

Democrats are torn individually (a state I share). On one side, they favor helping those in need, which inclines them to look sympathetically on immigrants; plus they’re relatively open to a multicultural, multiracial society…On the other side, however, open immigration can’t coexist with a strong social safety net; if you’re going to assure health care and a decent income to everyone, you can’t make that offer global.

So Democrats have mixed feelings about immigration; in fact, it’s an agonizing issue.

Republicans, on the other hand, either love immigration or hate it. The business-friendly wing of the party likes inexpensive workers (and would really enjoy a huge guest-worker program that would both provide such workers and ensure that they can neither vote nor, in practice, unionize). But the cultural/nativist/tribal conservatives hate having these alien-looking, alien-sounding people on American soil.

So immigration is an issue that divides Republicans one from another, not within each individual’s heart.

Photo credit: by Barbeefish

Filed under: Environment,News

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