The top Democrat in the Senate expects Congress to pass a sweeping immigration reform bill, despite any hold-outs in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
"Well, it's certainly going to pass the Senate,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., predicted during an interview with ABC News’ This Week that aired on Sunday. “And it would be a bad day for our country and a bad day for the Republican Party if they continue standing in the way of this. So the answer is yes."
Reid acknowledged drafting the legislation will be difficult, but suggested Republicans must get on board to improve the current immigration system or risk alienating these voters which proved crucial in the 2012 election.
"I think things are looking really good," said Reid. "One, it's the right thing to do. And number two, the Republicans can no longer stop this. They've tried it. It hasn't worked.”
The GOP establishment seem to agree that more measured stances on hot button issues, like immigration, are necessary for the Republican Party’s survival in future elections. Many conservatives in the House oppose any sort of amnesty for illegal immigrants. But, a new GOP group could help sway more Republicans to get on board with immigration reform
A sign of the shifting mood in politics: The Karl Rove-backed American Crossroads organization just launched a new initiative, the Conservative Victory Project, aimed at weeding out far-right candidates within their own party. The group’s internal pruning effort seeks “to recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts who Republican leaders worry could complicate the party’s efforts to win control of the Senate,” according to The New York Times report.
This is the establishment’s attempt to crack down on the Todd Akins, the Richard Mourdocks and Sharron Angles, who have jeopardized and lost bids against Democrats in the general election after making extremist statements.
The rapidly-increasing Hispanic voter base helped deliver Obama a sizable victory in November against the Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, whose solution to the immigration problem was “self-deportation.”
In a speech last week, President Obama called for immediate action to overhaul the system, providing a clear path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented workers currently residing in the United States. The notoriously muddled process can take many years to complete. In the president’s proposal, there would be a more defined set of benchmarks to meet in order to gain a legal status, such as background checks, financial penalties, learning English. Then after all that, these workers would get to the back of the immigration line behind foreigners who have sought to go through the system the hard yet legal way.
While Obama also pushed for strengthening security at U.S. borders, a bipartisan group of eight senators made it the priority of their plan. They proposed addressing more sweeping improvements to the system after certain border security measures are met.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, continues to remain relatively tight-lipped about the dueling proposals. “There are a lot of ideas about how best to fix our broken immigration system,” said Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck. “Any solution should be a bipartisan one, and we hope the president is careful not to drag the debate to the left and ultimately disrupt the difficult work that is ahead in the House and Senate.”