Orrin Hatch hasn't spent 36 years in the United States Senate without learning how to read the writing on the walls. And the polls. And the letters from his most influential constituents (i.e. campaign donors).
So when Utah's senior U.S. senator says the time for a comprehensive immigration reform package is now, he speaks not only as an expert who is well versed in the intricacies of the issue, but also as a savvy politician who knows when a rare window of opportunity has opened. And how soon it may close again.
Hatch has seen immigration reform plans come and go over the years. He opposed versions favored by President Reagan in 1986 (which passed) and by President George W. Bush in 2006 (which failed) because, in Hatch's view, both were too lenient in offering those who had already come to America without going through the proper legal channels a chance to remain and get on a path to citizenship.