President Barack Obama's nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor might buy him some time on a key campaign promise he made to Latino voters about making comprehensive immigration legislation a priority in his first year in office.
"I’m not sure I would even expect anything to pass in this Congress, much less this year," James Gimpel, a professor at the University of Maryland and expert on immigration politics, told The Hill.
"I think it’s a lot to expect."
Obama's choice of Sotomayor has drawn praise from Latino voters who turned out strongly for him in the 2008 presidential election. The Latin community strongly supports immigration reform and would like the president to make the nearly 12 million illegal aliens living in the U.S. legal.
"The Latino community — and not just Latinos, but anyone who’s had a set of life experiences like Sotomayor — will always remember Barack Obama for this," Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., told The Hill in support of Obama’s choice for the Supreme Court.
"This will inspire people who were hungry to see a reform of our broken immigration system to stand behind the president on this issue and behind the decisions he makes."
Obama, who is set to hold a high-profile meeting on immigration with key lawmakers June 8, recently has seen an increase in his favorability rating among Latinos rise from 67 percent to 81 percent, according to a University of Washington poll, and may experience another increase with his controversial high court pick.
However, Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies writes in the National Review that there’s no way immigration reform is going to happen this year. Recent surveys show more than 75 percent of U.S. citizens are against providing amnesty to illegals.
“It’s just fantasy,” Krikorian opined, noting Obama most likely will dodge the immigration debate until next year. Bolstering Krikorian’s contention is a recent Pew Research Center study that shows only 34 percent of Democrats support reform of immigration laws, down 14 percent from two years ago.
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