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This will be the first test on immigration for the Republican Party following crushing defeats in November 2008, when millions of Latino voters walked away from the GOP and supported the Democratic Party in record numbers. Since then, a number of Republican politicians and strategists-including Senator John McCain and outgoing President George W. Bush-have credited Congressional Republicans’ handling of the immigration issue with destroying the Party’s imagine among Latino voters and prompting this mass exodus from the Party.

“Today’s meeting is yet another signal that immigration reform is a priority for the incoming administration. Not only did President-Elect Obama make a campaign promise to move comprehensive reform in his first year, but immigration was one of seven issue working groups established during the transition period. Similarly, the Senate has placed immigration reform on its list of 10 legislative priorities.”

Rep. Hilda Solis is a strong and effective advocate for comprehensive immigration reform, who understands that the broken immigration system must be addressed for the good of American workers, American taxpayers, and immigrants who labor in the shadows. We welcome her nomination as Secretary of Labor and hope that her appointment will usher in a new era — one that finally holds unscrupulous employers accountable for exploiting workers and restores a level playing field for all.

Evidence is mounting that comprehensive immigration reform will be a priority in 2009. Click here to listen to the audio from today’s call.

Many in Republican circles have already recognized the need to distance themselves from King and his anti-immigration politics. Former McCain campaign manager Rick Davis said in an interview yesterday that for the Republican Party to win in the future, the GOP has “to change its attitude” toward Latinos. Given the tone of the immigration debate, he said, “I don’t blame Hispanics for not voting for us.” Similarly, in Newsweek, Karl Rove said that in order for the GOP to stay afloat, Republicans must support policy that “strengthens citizenship, grows our economy and keeps America a welcoming nation.”