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Was The Leaked Immigration Draft A Mistake Or Decoy?

The White House draft bill on immigration reform was leaked late last week, and Republican lawmakers seized the opportunity to decry it as a top-down proposal — dictating the direction of reform.

The bill is, as the administration calls it, a ' backup plan.' If the Senate’s bipartisan group, the Gang of Eight, moves too slowly, the president will introduce his own bill for vote.

In fact, the proposals inside the document USA Today published aren’t surprising — neither is the Republican response of equating certain passages to amnesty.

In a way it’s politics as usual, which makes the actual release of the bill more interesting than its contents.

“I’m sure if they could they’d take it back,” David Axlerod, former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, said on MSNBC's Morning Joe.

Axlerod didn't believe the leak was an attempt to ‘hijack the legislative process.’ But, as The Guardian points out, the timing is questionably opportunistic. It wouldn't be the first time the Obama Administration released an agenda before the Gang of Eight.

It was the second time in a month that the Obama administration has jumped ahead of Congress on immigration reform. The president's major speech on the effort, in Las Vegas on 29 January, was announced just days in advance with a weekend intervening. The senate "gang" had to call a hasty Monday press conference to announce their own work.

What is at stake is the powerful Latino voting bloc. Both parties want to take the leadership role in forging the historic passing of immigration reform.

If Obama wants to do this, Eugene Robinson, a Washington Post opinion writer, has interesting advice:

If the president really wants immigration reform to pass, one of the most helpful things he could do is put out his own plan as a decoy, to draw Republican fire, while the Senate works toward bipartisan consensus.

Robinson's point is that the immigration proposal leak may have been a decoy to get the process moving quicker.

What the Obama administration did was further advance the immigration reform conversation. Maybe they knew their draft would get leaked, maybe they didn’t — but the cards are on the table.

The poker chips are where they have been the whole time — in the Gang of Eight’s hands.