Momentum Builds Among Republicans for Immigration Reform

Wednesday, 20 Mar 2013 02:32 PM

By Cyrus Afzali

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Republican Sens. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio are among an emerging group of Republicans helping to gather momentum for passage of comprehensive immigration reform, a move many in the party see as crucial to gaining the support Hispanic voters.

Paul became the latest Republican to change his message this week when he told illegal immigrants who are willing to work in America, “We will find a place for you.”

He and Rubio, and other Republicans, are calling for a new stance on immigration, although many in the party remain wary of any provision that would grant illegal immigrants full citizenship.

As reported by The Hill, House Speaker John Boehner has endorsed the bipartisan negotiations, going as far as to call the framework they’ve created “a pretty responsible solution” to the immigration issue. His remarks were the first he's made on the issue since bipartisan groups in both the House and Senate began talking several weeks ago in hopes of reaching a compromise.

The House group of four Republicans and four Democrats told Boehner for the first time last week that a deal was close.

Meanwhile, the Senate's so-called Group of Eight, is expected to introduce its own bill in April following the Easter recess. The group, however, is not expected to release its proposal until it sees how reform effort is received in the Senate.

The progress marks a dramatic change in how Republicans approach immigration reform. Just a few years ago, many Republicans considered the granting of any legal status for illegal immigrants as amnesty and feared such a move would lead to an increase in illegal border crossings.

But while the issue may be nearing a legislative resolution, many conservative activists, including Bob Dane, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, predicts voters may not take to the idea of creating a pathway to citizenship for people who are in the United States illegally.

"Amnesty is that which rewards lawbreaking," Dane told The New York Times. "An amnesty bill is going to split the party. Workers are going to go crazy."

Dane and other activists are ready for a fight and are taking their warning directly to lawmakers.

"Forget about politics. Forget about trying to win voters. Stand on principles,” he said.

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