President Obama and fellow Democrats pushing for immigration reform have usually gone out of their way to hitch that call to populist demands on the right for stepped up border security.
With the president planning to sign off today on a $600 million bill to put "more boots on the ground" along the Mexican border, the decks are cleared for Democrats to go ahead with a comprehensive immigration bill. Or are they?
In the highly charged environment caused by Arizona's anti-immigration law (despite the court challenges) and Virginia threatening to follow suit, as well as talk of changing the 14th Amendment to eliminate "anchor babies", it should come as no surprise that throwing a half-billion dollars at the border isn't likely to placate anyone on either side of the debate.
The whole issue has had many Democrats sounding more like Republicans and GOP lawmakers giving only grudging making bipartisan noises.
Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) said "the threat is real and we need to action today." New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the chief sponsor in the Senate, praised the bill he said would provide "resources necessary to combat the crime and violence" along the border.
Democrats called the measure a "first step" and Schumer was among those that expressed optimism its passage would "clear the path for restarting bipartisan discussions" on comprehensive reform.
But if GOP Calif. Rep. Jerry Lewis is any indication, it seems that the bipartisanship won't be long-lived. He summed up a widely held Republican position that it's all simply "to allow Democrats to claim they care about border security."
Meanwhile, GOP Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl called the legislation a "start" - to border security, not to a larger reform of immigration.