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Obama to Begin Immigration Reform Push in Nevada

By Alexis Simendinger - January 29, 2013

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, in a statement Monday, reminded the White House that GOP senators want to consider immigration under “regular order,” meaning within each of the committees with jurisdiction, and through an amendment process once a measure (or measures) get to the Senate floor. McConnell’s statement underscored the fact that past reform efforts foundered along these complex routes through Congress.

McConnell warned Obama the GOP would not warm to a presidential speech that sought to divide Republicans, who are still reeling after 71 percent of Latino voters backed the president for re-election over Mitt Romney. “I hope he will take a bipartisan approach rather than delivering another divisive partisan speech,” the Kentucky Republican said.

Last September, during a television interview with Univision, Obama explained the differences between his approach and that of Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan.

“The candidate sitting here with you today is committed to comprehensive immigration reform; is committed to the 'DREAM Act’ [for children born in America to undocumented immigrants], has taken administrative actions to prevent young people from being deported,” he said.

“And that stands in contrast with the other candidate, who has said he would veto the 'DREAM Act,’ that he is uncertain about what his plan for immigration reform would be, and [who] considers the Arizona law a model for the nation, and has suggested that the main solution for immigration is self-deportation.”

With an improving economy and support from both business and the AFL-CIO, the White House plans to argue that immigration reform will expand economic growth, workers’ wages and the number of U.S. citizens paying into the Treasury and into the Social Security and Medicare systems. As America’s worker population ages and draws on entitlement benefits, the country is looking for younger workers to pay into the coffers. With 11 million undocumented workers already in the country, there is an economic argument for making them legal and offering the opportunity for citizenship, administration officials assert.

The Congressional Budget Office, academic analysts, and think tanks -- including CATO and the Center for American Progress -- have projected benefits to the economy resulting from an earned pathway to citizenship, countering public fears of lost jobs and lower wages. Some economists expect an additional 1 percent in growth and a $2.2 billion reduction in federal deficits over 10 years with enactment of comprehensive reforms, administration officials said Monday.

One Democratic source said immigration reform advocates are working toward House and Senate committee hearings and markup by March; Senate floor action by April or May; House floor action before Memorial Day; and Obama’s signature on a compromise measure before the August congressional recess.

Asked about a White House legislative calendar for enactment of reforms while the president also works to curb gun violence and achieve budgetary compromises with Republicans, administration officials said they could not put a timeline on it.

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Alexis Simendinger covers the White House for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at asimendinger@realclearpolitics.com. Follow her on Twitter @ASimendinger.

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