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Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) is taking heat for his vote against opening up debate on the immigration bill. The Chicago Tribune whacks him for his obstruction:
If Kirk isn't ready to support the bill, he should be actively working to make it better, not waiting to see if he likes the finished product. [...] The problem is that senators who demand greater border security before they'll support the bill fall into two camps: the ones who can be satisfied, and the ones who can't. Sometimes it's hard to tell them apart.

The bill already contains up to $6.5 billion more to lock down the border, even though illegal crossings are at their lowest levels in decades. That's partly because our economy has been poor while Mexico's improved, but it's also because we've spent billions ramping up border security since 2006, the last time the enforcement-first crowd balked at comprehensive reform.

The nation needs immigration reform. It needs leadership.

Again we ask: Where is Sen. Mark Kirk?

David Borris at Crain's Chicago Business expresses his disappointment in the senator's vote and lays out the facts on how immigrants boost America's economy:
As a small-business owner who needs only to go back two generations to my grandparents for my immigrant roots in this country, I and many business owners like me are growing increasingly frustrated with our senator's inability to lead on this important topic. [...] We need people buying homes, putting down roots, building the tax base and yes, starting new small businesses. On that point, immigration is decidedly an entrepreneurial issue. Immigrants are more than twice as likely to natural-born citizens to start a business. That means immigrants are job creators – not job takers.[...]

Mark Kirk claims to support a “pro-growth environment” for small business. If this is truly so, he should shoulder the responsibility as the state's top Republican and support legislation that has already been endorsed by both the AFL-CIO and the U.S. US Chamber of Commerce.

The time for obstructionist behavior is over. It's time to lead, Mr. Kirk.

More on the day's top stories below the fold.

NPR's Frank James delves into Obama's "lead from behind" strategy on immigration reform:

If you want to observe one of Washington's most delicate balancing acts, look no further than President Obama's effort to assert leadership on immigration legislation without its coming to be identified as a new Obamalaw.

Because they're keenly aware of how nearly any legislative effort that becomes known as the president's baby almost immediately makes his political foes hellbent on stopping it and denying him a victory, Obama and other White House officials have been committed to letting Congress take the lead on major legislation like immigration reform.

His challenge is to show just enough presidential leadership on an issue he campaigned on but not so much that he fires up those opposed to him on general principle, the Senate immigration legislation or both.

Mark W. Everson, former deputy commissioner at the Immigration and Naturalization Service and former IRS commissioner, has some issues with the Senate bill, but supports a path to citizenship and raises this point in The Washington Post:
Another area of concern is the establishment of border enforcement quotas. The so-called “effectiveness rate” of 90 percent has been widely discussed as an overall measure of border security. The Senate legislation even includes funding to increase border-crossing enforcement in the Tucson region to “up to 210 prosecutions per day.” After overseeing operations at two of the nation’s largest law enforcement agencies, the INS and the Internal Revenue Service, I am convinced that quotas tied to arrests and prosecutions hurt law enforcement and ultimately erode confidence in government. If there is a trigger mechanism associated with citizenship, it makes more sense to base it on data — compiled independently by the Bureau of Labor Statistics or the Census Bureau — of how many unauthorized people are in the country.
Mary Bruce at ABC News:
A report released by the Partnership for a New American Economy in 2011 found more than 40 percent Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children, even though immigrants have, on average, only made up 10.5 percent of the American population.  The same report showed that 20 percent of the newest Fortune 500 companies, founded between 1985-2010, were founded by an immigrant.

[The] “broken [immigration] system” is something Tolu Olubunmi knows all too well.
Olubunmi, who came to the U.S. from Africa when she was 14 years old and later received a degree in chemical engineering, told ABC News immigration reform would mean “liberation” for her.

“It would mean being able to step up and show yourself completely … to go to work and not fear that you might not come back home to your children,” she told ABC News’ Jim Avila. “It would mean being able to travel and see your family that you haven’t seen in many, many years.”

Switching gears, Ruth Marcus at The Washington Post writes up an important piece on the addition of women to the president's cabinet:
The girls are back in town.

When it comes to gender, this administration is in a transition state, changing but not yet fully transformed. [...] the presence of a few well-placed women such as Jarrett and Rice, and the addition of a few more — Kathy Ruemmler as White House counsel, Lisa Monaco as counterterrorism adviser, Sylvia Mathews Burwell at the Office of Management and Budget — upends the macho dynamic. These are not Dean Acheson’s national security meetings.

And the changes at the White House mirror the changes in society as a whole, choppy and unfinished but also inexorable.

Jeff Jacoby at The Boston Globe presents the conservative case for confirming Samantha Power.

On the topic of NRA overreach, Cesar Hidalgo, Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye, and Alex Pentland at The Christian Science Monitor argue it's time for a "new deal on data" that would put people in charge of their own communication:

ecause of the scale and connectedness of data collection and the inability of today’s institutions to squarely face the privacy issues involved, we strongly back a new approach to data privacy that we’re working on here at MIT’s Media Lab. It puts individuals in control of their personal data, allowing them to determine who can possess their data, how it can be shared, redistributed, and disposed of.

 Each citizen would have a personal data store, like an email inbox, that would let them see where data about them goes and how it is being used. The NSA could still get a court order allowing it to use a person’s metadata to track terrorists, but at least an individual could see that something is happening – rather like seeing a police cruiser patrolling the neighborhood. The big difference from now is that individuals could see which companies or government agencies were using data about them, and control these groups’ access to that data.

The New York Times reacts to a poll finding that most Americans are "untroubled by revelations of the NSA's dragnet collection":
Americans should not be fooled by political leaders putting forward a false choice. The issue is not whether the government should vigorously pursue terrorists. The question is whether the security goals can be achieved by less-intrusive or sweeping means, without trampling on democratic freedoms and basic rights. Far too little has been said on this question by the White House or Congress in their defense of the N.S.A.’s dragnet.
Finally, on access to Plan B, The Boston Globe praises the administration's decision to drop its objections to the availability of Plan B to all women at pharmacies:
Easier availability of Plan B will change lives, especially for vulnerable girls. The very teens who were most likely to have difficulty getting a prescription within the three-day window — victims of abuse, girls with unstable family lives — are also the ones most likely to need it. The fears of parents that availability of the drug will lead to more teen sex are reasonable, but perhaps overblown; Plan B, which costs around $50 a dose, is far too expensive for most teens — or, indeed, anyone else — to use habitually. That may be reinforced by the way it’s displayed in stores: For fear of theft, some pharmacies will likely keep it behind the counter.

With other birth-control methods available, Korman’s order may end up affecting relatively few girls. But for some teens, the lifting of the age restriction will be an enormous relief. Unwanted teen pregnancy is life-altering, and pharmacies and the government should remove unncessary barriers to safe and effective emergency contraception.

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