WASHINGTON – Backed into a corner by Arizona’s tough new immigration law, Democrats and Republicans alike find themselves grappling with a volatile issue neither party wanted to fight over just before important midterm congressional elections.
As lawmakers learned during the last national debate on immigration, in 2007, the issue incites passions across the country, affecting everything from national security to states’ rights to racial ambitions and resentments. It’s fraught with political minefields.
Thus, President Barack Obama, the Democrats who control Congress and Republicans who are in the minority are doing a delicate dance, mindful not to anger their electoral bases — or independents — on the issue.
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Underscoring the careful maneuvering, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano tried to strike a balance in testimony to Congress on Tuesday, saying, “Continually enhancing border security is not only critical for border communities, but is a necessary part of any comprehensive attempt to fix our nation’s broken immigration system to make it work for the 21st century.”