(CNN) - Word that President Obama might pile comprehensive immigration reform onto his already-full plate reignited calls from some for an urgent overhaul and brought cries from others that the timing couldn't be worse.
"It's more important than ever to address immigration reform right now," said Ian Haney Lopez, a professor of law at the University of California-Berkeley.
The financial and cultural dynamics of the economy make reform so urgent, he said.
"I worry that in the context of an economic downturn, the cultural response of that economic downturn will be to search for someone to blame, and that someone usually turns out to be a foreigner or someone perceived as foreigner," he said.
As a financial dynamic, he said, the economy also calls for immigration reform: "It's a mistake to understand immigrants as a drain on the economy. Immigrants in fact are the engine of development in this country and always have been," he said.