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Advocates Ramp up Pressure, White House Renews Push for Major Immigration Overhaul

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Today Peter Nicholas of the Los Angeles Times reports that, “Despite steep odds, the White House has discussed prospects for reviving a major overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws, a commitment that President Obama has postponed once already.” News that the White House is preparing to push Congress to move forward on the overhaul is music to many ears. Of course, proof will need to come in the form of concrete progress.

According to Nicholas:

Obama took up the issue privately with his staff Monday in a bid to advance a bill through Congress before lawmakers become too distracted by approaching midterm elections.

In the session, Obama and members of his Domestic Policy Council outlined ways to resuscitate the effort in a White House meeting with two senators — Democrat Charles E. Schumer of New York and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina — who have spent months trying to craft a bill.

According to a person familiar with the meeting, the White House may ask Schumer and Graham to at least produce a blueprint that could be turned into legislative language.

In a sharp Op-ed in the Washington Post today, ICIRR’s Joshua Hoyt lays out one major constituency at stake if the Obama administration fails to move real immigration reform forward this year: Latino voters. From “Obama risks alienating Latinos with lack of immigration reform:”

I have known Barack Obama since 1986, when we were both community organizers. I am still organizing on the streets of Chicago, and what I see in the Latino community makes me fear that the president is oblivious to the pain wrought by our broken immigration system. It could have a profound effect on the 2010 and 2012 elections.

It didn’t have to be this way. For a brief moment last year it appeared that Obama might realign the modern political map, cementing the Latino vote into the Democratic coalition by speaking plainly to the American people on the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

Instead, he squandered a political gift handed to him by the Republican Party‘s nativist wing — and its anti-immigrant rhetoric — during the 2008 campaign. Candidate Obama promised to make immigration reform a priority during his first year in office, and the Latino vote surged to 10 million, from 7.8 million in 2004, and swung eight percentage points toward the Democrats.

Hoyt reminds readers that, “In its first year, the Obama administration was on track to deport some 400,000 immigrants — far more than during George W. Bush‘s last year in office. On the anniversary of Obama’s inauguration, Hoy, the Spanish-language newspaper in Chicago, ran a full-page picture of the president on its cover under the headline “Promesa Por Cumplir” (“Unkept Promise”). The sense of betrayal among Latinos — especially immigrants — is palpable, just as it was after Obama’s 2006 vote on the border fence.”