U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about tightening gun regulations during a visit to the Denver Police Academy in Denver, Colorado April 3, 2013. (Photo : Reuters)
As the Senate prepares to release a compromise immigration reform bill and the House works on its own version of those measures, the White House is pushing for a quick timetable, fearful that the longer it takes to call a vote of immigration reform, the lower its chances of passing.
President Obama is hopeful. "I'm very optimistic that we get immigration reform done in the next few months," he said. He compared the chances of passing immigration reform favorably to the chances of passing new gun control measures, but considering the opposition those face in Congress, that's not saying much.
Both houses on Congress seem to be making steady progress toward similar but competing bills that would offer a path to citizenship for many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country. The bills also called for increased border security and an easing of restrictions on foreign workers, though the bills and their proponents differ on the exact specifications of any of those measures.
Even business and labor leaders have come to tentative agreements over the number of workers who will be allowed to enter the country, as well the rate of pay they must receive.
Yet progress is always slow in Washington. Even now, some conservative Republicans are calling for caution in deliberations, asking the Senate Judiciary Committee for several months to review any proposals before weighing in.
The White House will fight a delay of that kind, as will an unlikely bipartisan group of both Democrats and Republicans who have been the impetus behind the recent immigration reform push.
Many Democrats have long wanted to bring undocumented immigrants out of the shadows of society and make the entire immigration process easier for all potential immigrants.
While some individual Republicans, particularly those of Latino heritage, have also long supported efforts at reform, party leaders are now on board. After the 2012 presidential election, in which 71 percent of Hispanics and 73 percent of Asian-Americans voted for President Obama, Republican leaders realize they must rehabilitate their image among minorities in order to have a shot at any future national elections.
But they need to rein in the more conservative, anti-immigrant wing of their party to do so. Whether they can remains to be seen.