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Bipartisan Signs that Immigration Reform is Coming

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inaugurationSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid has just identified immigration as the top legislative priority for the Senate in 2013—and that’s just the latest sign that immigration reform will happen this year.  Here are more signs–bipartisan signs–from the last few days:

  • President Obama highlighted immigration as an issue to tackle yesterday during his second inaugural address, saying, “Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.”
  • White House senior advisor David Axelrod, shortly after yesterday’s inauguration ceremony, told the Los Angeles Times that the public will see immigration reform legislation soon.  He said, “I expect you’re going to see immigration surface early in the year.  We have certain immutable deadlines relative to the fiscal discussion, but I do believe [Obama is] going to move quickly on immigration as well — he’s got a State of the Union in three weeks.”
  • Another White House senior adviser, David Plouffe, echoed this on CNN’s “State of the Union.”  He said, “There’s no reason that immigration reform first shouldn’t pass.  I think there is a huge consensus, business community, Republicans around the country, the faith community, so obviously the legislative process those work its way through.  But this is the moment. The stars seem to be aligned to finally get comprehensive immigration reform. So we would expect that.”
  • Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday said that immigration reform would be a pivotal issue for Republicans, who needed to prove their party had “broad appeal.”  She said, “I think immigration is really the big issue, frankly. We sent some pretty bad signals around immigration.”
  • Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) told Politico on Sunday that Congress needs to take on  immigration reform, and the idea that people “should all take themselves back to their countries” simply doesn’t make sense.  She said, “We need to have comprehensive immigration reform and that means there should be a path for citizenship.  And certainly I support the DREAM Act to help all of these young people who were brought here.”
  • Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas), Chairman of Congressional Hispanic Caucus, wrote in an op-ed to NBC Latino that “immigration reform must be a priority for 2013.”  He said, “In the 113th Congress, the CHC will remain committed to comprehensive immigration reform and dedicate all our efforts and time to ensure legislation will make it to President Obama’s desk.”
  • Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) said in her own NBC Latino op-ed, “Immigration reform continues to be a crucial issue. I am cautiously optimistic that during this new Congress, we will pass immigration reform.”
  • After a meeting of the US Conference of Mayors in Washington, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told Politico that the time to pass immigration reform has come: “I’m very hopeful.  I’m encouraged that Sen. McCain and Lindsey Graham and the eight senators who have worked in the past on this issue and see comprehensive immigration reform as vital to our economy and restoring our values.”
  • Agreed Raul Salinas, the Democratic mayor of Laredo, Texas: “I think the time is now.  The president has received an impressive mandate in critical states, and Latinos were very crucial…in November. It’s about doing the right thing. We have Latinos who served in the military, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Vietnam and other medals and gotten medals of honor, purple hearts. I think what we’re looking at is the proper path to citizenship. We’re not talking about amnesty.”
  • Also in support was Greg Stanton, the Democratic Mayor of Phoenix, Arizona: “Like Mayor Villaraigosa, I am more confident now than I’ve been in a long time that the time is now.  And this is actually going to occur in our Congress and the right, positive things are going to occur on this issue.”
  • Republican pollster Glen Bolger reminded his party, in an interview with Roll Call, of the political imperative behind supporting immigration reform.  He said, “When you do the math, it’s a very narrow path to victory in a presidential year without significant improvement among Hispanics.”
  • Actress/activist Eva Longoria went on ABC’s “This Week” to tell Republicans that they have a moral, political, and economic duty to compromise on immigration.  She said that everyone should be “engaged in a level that would affect policy” because “that’s how our government is set up.”
  • Even Arizona Governor Jan Brewer seems to be moderating her stringently anti-immigrant positions, discussing the issue during last week’s State of the State speech in terms of “fair-minded people” and “human compassion.”  She said, “I’ve heard the earnest calls for immigration reform.  I agree our nation’s system is broken and has been for decades. Once our border is secure, I pledge to work with all fair-minded people to reform our nation’s immigration system. It must once again combine the rule of law and human compassion, providing safety for our citizens and facilitating our economic relationship with Mexico — Arizona’s largest trade partner.”

And it’s not just pundits that are supporting a move on immigration reform.  A Hart Research Associates / Public Opinion Strategies poll released last week found that a majority of Americans support immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship, while a CNN poll released today found that a majority of Americans support legalizing immigrants rather than deporting them.