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Later, Riddle bragged on her Web site that she had "created a media frenzy." Describing her weekend outing, she said, "A visitor that walked by told me that I reminded them of the kids that camp out for Duke basketball tickets in Durham, North Carolina."
Compared to Riddle's exuberance, the case for comprehensive reform is numbingly complex and frustratingly diffuse. But that has a lot to do with the incredible breadth of the coalition behind an integrative approach as opposed to those who propose massive deportation.
Anderson Cooper can do all the deadpan he wants. And yet it's the Debbie Riddles who are in the driver's seat on immigration — a stunning reality, given the breadth and depth of the forces arrayed against them in favor of comprehensive reform and full legal status for the undocumented millions amongst us.
Consider the National Immigration Forum, whose mission is to "embrace and uphold America's tradition as a nation of immigrants." Its board members represent the Catholic Church, the Baptist Church, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, major employers, and big labor, along with policy groups of both liberal and conservative stripe.
The urgent need for national immigration reform is uniting what otherwise might be strange bedfellows. In April when Arizona passed SB 1070, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce went to court against it, arm in arm with one of the country's most powerful unions, the Service Employees International Union.
And it's not just interest groups and factions who favor a resolution that does not involve mass deportation. Opinion polls have found strong support — in the 80 percent range — for controlling the borders and integrating the immigrants already here into lawful society. Mass expulsion, whether by deportation or harassment, is in the approval ratings basement, at more like 25 percent.
In spite of all that, the advocates of integration are foxholing for a bitter fight in which they admit their best hope is to stave off a surge for mass expulsion when the new Congress sits next year, given its anticipated tenor after the full effect of the mid-term elections takes hold in January.
Before the midterms changed everything, the aims of moderates came down to four things, all expressed in bills introduced but not passed in the last session of Congress by Senators Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina; Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey; and Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York.
First, the moderate reformers were seeking and still want real workplace enforcement so that employers will not be able to hire people who have not signed up for legal residence.
Second, advocates want serious enforcement of entry laws at the border and away from the border, with focus on the horrors of human trafficking. As it is now, even when the coyotes who smuggle immigrants in across the southern border do get caught, they receive get-of-jail-free cards from U.S. Immigration Enforcement, which quickly deports all of the key witnesses. On November 11, Village Voice Media revealed that a Colorado crackdown on traffickers had produced only 87 indictments since an anti-human-smuggling law was passed in 2006. The vast majority of those cases ultimately were dismissed for lack of evidence.
But it's not all about illegal crossers. The third plank in the reform platform is a call for a good way into the country for legal immigrants — a pragmatic guest-worker program that meets the needs of industry, a rational visa system for highly qualified sought-after immigrants.