Immigration Reform, Has its Time Finally Come?

Posted on February 6, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

By Scott Orr

immigration-reformFresh from a November defeat at the polls, fueled in large part by an ever-growing and increasingly monolithic Hispanic voting block, Republicans seem in a mood to compromise on an immigration package that would make it easier for illegal immigrants and their kids to become America citizens.

President Obama, the electoral beneficiary of the Hispanic vote last November, is expected to make immigration reform a key component of his State of the Union address next Tuesday. More than 70 percent of Hispanic voters backed Obama last November.

As a roll up to the speech, the President has been holding a series of meetings at the White House with business and labor leaders, seeking support for a plan to create a clear path to citizenship for America’s 11 million illegal immigrants.

This path would hardly be a cakewalk, placing illegal immigrants behind their legal countrymen in the green card line and requiring them to undergo background checks and satisfy legal debts.

Such a plan would have been shot down without hesitation in many GOP offices on Capitol Hill just last year, but after November many Republicans are realizing that Latino voters are only going to become more powerful in the coming years. And immigration is their touchstone issue.

Even House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, the second-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives and once a strong opponent of citizenship for illegals, sounded ready to compromise in remarks this week to the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

Cantor said the Congress should do what it can to help the children of immigrants, even if their parents defied U.S. laws in coming to this country.

“One of the great founding principles of our country was that children would not be punished for the mistakes of their parents. It is time to provide an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children and who know no other home,” he said.

Other Republicans, meanwhile, want to tie concessions on the path to citizenship to steps toward securing U.S. borders. This kind of compromise has promise.

Last week, a bipartisan group of eight senators unveiled a set of principles they hope to meld into legislation, including a path to citizenship and breaks for families and children. A similar bipartisan group is said be secretly working on a compromise package in the House.

It’s really a no lose situation for Obama and the Democrats: Either the Republicans back down on their long-held opposition to immigration reform, or voters blame Republicans for Congress’ failure when they return to the polls in 2014.

Turner GPA is a leading D.C.-based national lobbying and government affairs firm dedicated to delivering cutting edge policy advocacy for the manufacturing, defense, aerospace, health and energy industries. Members of our professional policy team can be reached at (202) 466-2511. We are also on the Web at www.turnergpa.com.

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