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From Boehner & Cantor to Hannity & Krauthammer, Influential Conservatives Talk Need for Immigration Reform

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Leading Republican and conservative voices are coming to terms with the political imperative that the Party must evolve on immigration reform.

According to Frank Sharry:

The tectonic plates are shifting on immigration.  The fact that leading movement conservative voices are joining Republican leaders in calling for immigration reform that includes relief for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America is a major development that will open up space for the GOP to do the right thing and help pass sensible reform legislation.

Among the key developments on the subject over the past 24 hours include the following comments from leading Republicans and conservatives:

  • Sean Hannity: The influential conservative Fox News television and radio host said on his radio show Thursday that he has “evolved” on the issue and now supports a “pathway to citizenship.”  Hannity said, our nation needs to “get rid of the immigration issue altogether.”
  • Speaker of the House John Boehner: The Speaker said to ABC News regarding immigration reform, “This issue has been around far too long…A comprehensive approach is long overdue, and I’m confident that the president, myself and others can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all.”
  • House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s office: An unnamed Cantor aide told the Wall Street Journal’s Peter Nicholas yesterday that “We understand that we can’t keep kicking this can down the road…We’re going to address the 11 million people,” referring to the components of a future immigration reform bill.
  • Charles Krauthammer: The conservative columnist and pundit writes today, “In securing the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney made the strategic error of (unnecessarily) going to the right of Rick Perry.  Romney could never successfully tack back.  For the party in general, however, the problem is hardly structural.  It requires but a single policy change: Border fence plus amnesty.  Yes, amnesty.”

The above voices are joining a host of other Republican and conservatives who have been making a similar case – that the Republican Party must get right on immigration reform in order to compete for Latino voters.  Among those making such a case in the past few days include the Wall Street Journal editorial page, conservative activist Grover Norquist, leading conservative religious voices, key strategists and officials from the George W. Bush White House, and influential business leaders, like Rupert Murdoch.

Said Sharry:

In addition to the fiscal cliff, many leading conservatives are finally starting to worry about the GOP’s demographic cliff.  They should take heart in the fact that the vast majority of all Americans, not just Latino and Asian-Americans, want Washington to pass sensible immigration reform, which includes a path to citizenship for 11 million aspiring Americans.

Consider the response from 2012 voters to this question asked in the network exit polls – “should most illegal immigrants working in the United States be offered a chance to apply for legal status or deported to country they came from?”  By a whopping 65%-28% margin, Americans support the “apply for legal status” option.  Even among Republican activists – such as Iowa caucus-goers – immigration policy positions are more pragmatic than conventional wisdom might suggest.

Concluded Sharry:

The political class and conservative thought-leaders seem to finally be catching up to where the American people are on this issue.  It’s about time.