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Obama launches push for immigration overhaul

Published 10:31am Tuesday, January 29, 2013

WASHINGTON — Seeking swift action on immigration, President Barack Obama on Tuesday will try to rally public support behind his proposals for giving millions of illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship, as well as making improvements to the legal immigration system and border security.

The president will launch his push in a campaign-style event in Las Vegas, a day after a bipartisan group of senators unveiled their own plan for addressing an issue that has languished in Washington for years.

Administration officials said Obama would largely endorse the senators’ efforts, though immigration advocates said they expected the president’s own proposals to be more progressive than the Senate group’s plan, including a faster pathway to citizenship.

The simultaneous immigration campaigns were spurred by the November presidential election, in which Obama won an overwhelming majority of Hispanic voters. The results caused Republican lawmakers who had previously opposed immigration reform to reconsider in order to rebuild the party’s reputation among Hispanics, an increasingly powerful political force.

Most of the recommendations Obama will make Tuesday are not new. He outlined an immigration blueprint in May 2011 but exerted little political capital to get it passed by Congress, to the disappointment of many Hispanics.

Obama “will certainly note today the promising signs we’ve seen in Congress, most specifically the bipartisan principles put together by the group of senators that mirror his own principles,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Nevada. “That is cause for hope. And what you’ll hear from the president today is how we need to take these initial positive steps and continue to move forward so that actual legislation is produced.”

The president was to make his pitch in Nevada, a political battleground he carried in November, in large part because of support from Hispanics in the state.

Nationally, Obama won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote, giving him a key advantage over Republican rival Mitt Romney.


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