The New Year is always a time to be optimistic, and 2014 is no exception when it come to predicting immigration reform. Even though the new year is less than a week old as of this writing, the resounding defeat that CIR suffered at the hands of the Tea Party in the House last year after passing the Senate in June with (some) bipartisan support has already been forgotten, and optimistic predictions that we will have reform in 2014 are as common as the snowflakes in the storm that we had here in the Northeast a couple of days ago.

In contrast, predictions that reform may have a hard time in 2014 are about as easy to find as op-ed columns in North Korean newspapers saying that Kim Jong-Un's uncle was really a good man who should not have been executed.

Here is a sample of how the pundits are lining up in lockstep to tell us how easy it will be to pass immigration reform in 2014, even though nothing has changed on the ground since hopes for CIR in 2013 came to such an ignominious end only a few days ago.

One headline (Sylvia Ruiz, December 31, 2013) shouts: Immigration reform is within our reach in 2014. Here's why--.

Another headline (Oscar Lopez) reads: New Year 2014: 4 Reasons Immigration Reform Will Pass.


A third headline (also dated December 31, 2013, author not listed) advises in no uncertain terms: 2014 Will Bring Immigration Reform.

And, not to be outdone, no less than Fox News itself, which before the 2012 election was not exactly known for its support of immigration reform, has jumped on the optimistic bandwagon with a January 3 column by Tom Kane called Why 2014 will be the year of immigration reform.

One has to hand it to Fox News. On immigration reform, as on almost everything else, Fox sticks to its "Sun rises in the west; sky is down below us; earth revolves around the moon" alternative view of reality.

In this view - guess what - House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is the one who has been working to push reform through the House and those obstructionist Democrats are the ones who have been holding it up.

Kane writes:

"The House of Representatives under the leadership of Speaker John Bohner have been quietly working on a series of incremental immigration bills.

Contrary to the provocative and vapid punditry claiming the Senate's 'heroic' efforts have stalled in the House, Boehner has actually shepherded these little reform through committee, and has them poised for full passage whenever Democrats get serious about policy instead of politics."

Right: And maybe we don't need reform anyway, because Obama hasn't deported anyone since he became president and there are no backlogs for legal visas.

But to return from our brief journey to Fox News back over to the real world as we know it on Planet Earth, there is at least one article out there than sounds a welcome note of caution about reform, while still leaving the door open for some optimism.

This article, by Doug Mataconis, dated January 2, is called Boehner Ready To Back Immigration Reform?

Like the more openly optimistic articles mentioned above and in my previous posts, the author seizes on some of Boehner's recent statements and his hiring of former McCain immigration advisor Rebecca Tallent.

However, unlike the reformers who refuse to admit that there are any brambles in the bush, Mataconis is aware of the powerful influence of the Tea Party:

"While many Republicans may agree with Boehner that immigration reform is both politically smart and the right thing to do, the threat of a Tea Party primary challenge prevents many of them from saying anything publicly that sounds like they're getting 'squishy' on immigration. Just ask Lindsey Graham, whom most Tea Party supporters no derisively refer to as 'Grahmnesty'.

That pressure from the right is why I declared back in October that immigration reform was likely dead in the House for the remainder of the 113th Congress." [i.e. until 2015].

What are the real issues in the immigration reform battle? Why is reform being held up? What do we really need to do to pass reform?

One of the best articles I have seen about these issues is dated January, 2014 in Catholic Philly, by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, with the title National Migration Week and the goal of immigration reform, 2014.

Archbishop Chaput writes:

"Nonetheless, we should remember that while we are a nation of laws, we are also a nation founded on the principle of justice. Accomplishing immigration reform would restore justice to the immigration system and strengthen, not undermine, the rule of law."

He continues:

"It does not take political courage to complain about undocumented immigrants. It
does take political courage to seek and achieve real change in immigration policies sustained on the weakness of those sustained without rights or a voice."

And in conclusion, the Archbishop writes:

"We need to pray that our elected federal officials will find the courage in this new year of Our Lord, 2014, to finally pass real immigration reform. In the end, the ultimate question for Congress, and for all Americans, is whether we want to live in a society that accepts the toil of immigrants on the one hand, and then treats them like outcasts on the other. For our own sake, I want to believe the answer is 'no'."