By Jean-Paul Salamanca ( | First Posted: Jan 26, 2013 09:16 AM EST

President Obama says that he plans to start pushing for immigration reform beginning in Las Vegas next week. (Photo : Reuters)

President Obama has a full plate as he begins his second term in the White House this week, but immigration reform tops that list. And it doesn't look like he's waiting long to dig in.

The White House appears ready to begin an intensive push on immigration reform starting next week.

Obama met Friday with high-ranking members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to discuss his plan, as well as to talk strategy and policy for the debate on the hot-button immigration issue.

"Immigration reform is not a matter of 'if' but 'when,'" Rep. Xavier Becerra of California, the fourth-ranking Democrat in the U.S. House, told the Houston Chronicle. "Now is the time and this is our moment. After today's meeting, it's clear that President Obama is determined to fix our long-broken immigration system."

The president plans to talk about his support for comprehensive immigration reform on Tuesday during a major policy address in Las Vegas.

After the meeting, U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill, said he was "very optimistic," based on conversations he had with Republicans in both congressional houses, that immigration reform would occur this year.

"The president is the quarterback and he will direct the team, call the play, and be pivotal if we succeed," he said.

Immigration reform has been at the forefront of the buzz in Washington since the November election, when a record-breaking number of Latinos supported Obama as he won a second term in the White House.

Now, Latino advocates and support groups say they want immigration reform to be taken seriously in Washington.

It looks like they might get their wish, as reports are surfacing that an eight-member bipartisan group of Democratic and Republican senators are close to a deal on comprehensive immigration reform measures that could be announced late next week.

However, it is still unclear if that deal would include a pathway to citizenship for many of the 11 million undocumented residents in the U.S.

"We have basic agreement on many of the core principles," Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), a member of the group, told the Washington Post. "Now we have to draft it. It takes time."

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