Five Best Tuesday Columns

The Atlantic Wire

Bill Richardson on CNN.com on immigration reform Then suddenly, immigration reform became the most discussed issue in Washington. As President Obama gears up to propose his own plan for liberalizing the immigration process, a bipartisan team of Senators has presented its own plan to put undocumented citizens on a path to citizenship. It's about time, says former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson. "A comprehensive plan should create a path to earned citizenship, enforceable border security, a realistic guest worker plan, accountability for employers that hire illegal immigrants and passage of the DREAM Act," he writes. "Unless we come to grips with all aspects of the immigration issue, we are going to end up with the same impractical, expensive and ineffective solutions we have had for years."

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Michael Tomasky in The Daily Beast on Republican efforts to attract minority voters Four Republicans are behind the Senate's proposed immigration reform package. And when asked why conservatives are changing their mind about allowing undocumented citizens to stay in the U.S. legally, Senator John McCain said it had a lot to do with "elections." The GOP can't afford to lose Hispanic voters anymore, McCain and other Republicans are arguing. But Michael Tomasky isn't so sure the GOP's plan to attract minority voters will work. "Well, they could," he admits. "But they’d have to do things that would make them not the Republican Party anymore, and their base would never permit it ... It is going to be a deeply painful and contentious process for the GOP. I’d say it will be amusing for the rest of us, but it will inject enough poison into the body politic to make it not much fun for anyone."

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Andrew Ross Sorkin in The New York Times on the next head of the SEC The narrative that's emerged around Mary Jo White's nomination to head the Securities and Exchange Commission is one of getting tough on Wall Street. "You don't want to mess with Mary Jo," President Obama said about his choice. But even though White was a fierce prosecutor in the '90s, Andrew Ross Sorkin thinks she's cozier with bankers than she's been made out to be. "She has spent the last decade vigorously defending—and billing by the hour—Wall Street’s biggest banks, as a rainmaking partner at the white-shoe law firm Debevoise & Plimpton," he writes. "Of course, if she is confirmed, we must all hope that she can put her previous client relationships behind her and work for her new client—us."

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Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker on activist judges Conservatives angry about recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board were vindicated by a court ruling last week that found President Obama's move unconstitutional. But Jeffrey Toobin says this ruling wasn't a victory for limits on power as much as it was for "right-wing judicial activism," which "has been ascendant in recent years." Toobin writes, "President Bill Clinton made 139 recess appointments, while George W. Bush made 171 ... Obama has made only thirty-two such appointments." And guess which court has yet to appoint an Obama nominee as judge due to Republican obstructionism? "After four-plus years as President, Obama has succeeded in placing exactly zero judges on this court."

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Tim Padgett in Time on Brazil's nightclub fire The tragic deaths of over 200 young Brazilians in a nightclub fire this past weekend won't just leave the country saddened—it'll also hamper its effort to foster robust science and tech research. Half of these students studied agronomy at the Universidade Federal de Santa Maria’s agronomy. These were "kids Brazil particularly needed," Padgett writes. "The mass demise of science scholars carries a potent symbolism for Brazil — especially for President Dilma Rousseff, who through her Science Without Borders program has made it a crusade to produce tens of thousands more STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates as the South American giant reaches for a developed future that seems so close but in many ways remains so far."

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