My friend Tamar Jacoby has an excellent editorial in today's Los Angeles Times providing an overview of the current political landscape for comprehensive immigration reform:

The problem: Left and right not only frame their arguments differently,
they also disagree on matters of substance. Most significantly, unions
question whether the country needs reform that creates more visas for
immigrant workers to enter the country in the future, while employers
who hire foreigners say they can't sustain their businesses without
them.

The question for the months ahead: Will these differences
undo the reform movement, or will left and right find ways to
compromise, broadening their base and expanding their power?

Here's
the other big question: How strong are the anti-immigrant activists who
dominated the debate last time -- talk radio and CNN's Lou Dobbs and
their inflamed, angry followers. In fact, as poll after poll showed,
these naysayers represented a relatively small segment of Americans --
no more than 20% to 25%. But they were loud and well-organized, and
they managed to generate doubts about reform among a much larger group
of uncertain, ambivalent voters.

Dobbs and former Colorado
congressman Tom Tancredo are already ratcheting up their anti-immigrant
rhetoric, and the recession may help them. But it's also possible that
things will play out differently, that some of the far-right's anger is
spent, and that the doubts won't catch on as they did last time among
the broader public. Voters are anxious and self-absorbed, but as
Obama's election and continued popularity show, voters want things
fixed. They want Washington to act boldly, to tackle hard problems, to
make the compromises necessary to pass fundamental reforms. And
immigration may well benefit from the new can-do, reformist mood.

Will
it be immigration deja vu in 2009? It could be -- the same old stale
debate or an equally uncompromising one. But enough has already changed
that it could be different this time around. Who knows, this time, we
as a nation might even get to "yes."