WASHINGTON — In a potential breakthrough for long-stalled
President Obama will make his case for immigration overhaul in his
A senior administration official said Monday that the White House remained "cautiously optimistic" about prospects for moving an immigration bill, or series of bills, through
"There are important economic consequences for passing immigration reform, from expanding economic opportunity to creating jobs, to reducing the deficit," said the official, who asked not to be identified discussing the president's speech in advance. "There are a whole lot of good reasons for the Congress to take action on this."
Whether the Republican shift is enough to break decades of legislative deadlock on immigration, and let Obama achieve a significant domestic goal in his second term, is unclear.
But the push, seven months after the
Republican strategists think taking action on immigration will help GOP candidates appeal to Latino and Asian American voters on other key issues, including taxes and abortion. Those voters overwhelmingly cast ballots for Obama in 2012.
Unlike the Senate bill passed in June, Republicans are expected to require immigrants to use existing legal channels to apply. That means they must wait until more than 3 million applications have been cleared, a near-impossible backlog unless applications are processed more quickly.
But Republicans are considering eliminating a requirement in current law that forces most immigrants without papers to return to their home country for up to 10 years before they can be granted legal papers to stay in the United States.
The Senate plan proposed a 13-year path to citizenship, and the
The way forward is full of obstacles. House Republicans have insisted they will not vote on the Senate immigration bill or allow House bills to be combined with it. And Boehner has said the House will consider only small-scale bills, not a single sweeping piece of legislation as the Senate did.
"We should never pass a bill that says you can never become a citizen. I think that's just un-American," he said.
"It is possible to create a plan that will work using the existing system as a framework," Lofgren said. "I need to wait and see what they are going to propose."
Eliseo Medina, a labor leader and an immigrant rights advocate, hailed the Republican shift as progress. "We've gone from 'Immigration is dead' to writing principles. ... If they are serious, we want to be good partners."
Republicans including Rep.
"It's political suicide for Republicans to do this," King said.