Administration officials began meeting to discuss these steps in June, immediately after the Senate failed to overhaul the nation's immigration laws. The White House presided over sessions that included the Departments of State, Labor, Commerce, Homeland Security and Education. Officials from Treasury and the Social Security Administration also took part.So can we attribute these new rules to the seeming failure of the "grand bargain"? Could these new rules be a way of gaining support for a revival of "comprehensive immigration reform"? Chertoff thinks so:
Chertoff said the administration held off on implementing these measures in the hope that a legislative overhaul would provide a tougher arsenal. "We looked at these programs late last year, early this year, and we thought, 'You know, this is kind of a half-measure. Wouldn't it be better to get the full measure and the sharpest, newest tools if Congress passes them and gives it to us?' " he said.
Chertoff suggested that once the provisions had been in force for a while, Congress would see immigration reform in a different light.So could this be the first step of a wider effort? According to some reports, Specter and Bush have spoken about Specter's new immigration proposal. Could they be coordinating strategy? (Probably a random question--but maybe still worth asking.) Is there some other plan afoot?
"Everybody who criticized comprehensive immigration reform for being too complex, maybe now they're going to realize it's complex because there are a lot of interconnected pieces to this and when you try to deal with only one corner of it, you wind up with a huge impact on something else," he said.
"I would still like to believe Congress is capable of doing big things and not just producing bumper-sticker solutions to problems. I haven't given up yet."