Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Reform news on the D.L.

Since Mexican President Vicente Fox will soon be without a job, he's started moonlighting as an investigative journalist (or possibly a gossip columnist).

On Monday Fox relayed to Mexican radio a conversation he had with U.S. President George Bush in St. Petersburg, Russia during the Group of Eight ("G8") summit. Bush told him that the U.S. Congress is unlikely to pass immigration reforms before November congressional elections (Bush seems to have been saying a lot off the cuff while in Russia, as in his accidently taped conversation with U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair.)

Reuters New Service reported that Bush told Fox that time was running out. "He pointed out that this period is very short, there are only two or three weeks before Congress members go on the election campaign," Fox told journalists on a flight from St. Petersburg, Russia, to Madrid. "So the chance of the immigration issue reaching approval in the House of Representatives and reaching joint approval isn't very high," Fox said.

Reuters also reported that U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist last week gave less than even odds that Congress would pass the immigration law overhaul before the congressional elections. Frist said election year politics and lack of movement by the House of Representatives toward a comprehensive approach sought by the Senate and Bush complicated negotiations for final legislation.

While this all might not be new news to those of us following developments around immigration reform, it is telling that we, the public, must hear this information from second or third sources (such as presidents of other countries) rather directly from our leaders. It also reveals that Congress and President have little to gain in resolving the issue before the November elections. The heightened national attention to the issue works well to bring voters out for ballot initiatives in several states.