U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, has joined a growing amount of Republicans that are calling for immigration reform. (Photo : Reuters)
Barely a month after GOP candidate Mitt Romney was dealt a stinging defeat in the race for the presidency, signs are beginning to show that more Republicans are taking immigration reform as a more serious priority.
This week, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, said he believed there was a good chance that immigration reform laws--with the inclusion of a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants--would indeed be passed by 2016.
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"We understand that legal immigration is not just an important part of our heritage, it's an important part of our future," Rubio told Politico's Mike Allen. "We're not talking about plagues of locusts, we're talking about people."
Because his party, the Republicans, have adopted an anti-illegal immigrant stance for many years, Rubio acknowledged that winning over Latino voters is going to be "a challenge."
In order to meet that challenge and bring more Latinos into the GOP fold, "what we really need to be is the pro-legal [immigrants] party," he said.
Rubio's sentiments echo the message that pro-immigration reform groups are sending to conservatives and Republicans.
"Fair and just immigration reform is first and foremost a moral issue," Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty, said at the National Immigration Forum on Tuesday, where more than 250 leaders from law enforcement, business and faith groups met to discuss immigration reform with lawmakers and White House staff. "God has definite opinions about how we treat the stranger in our midst."
As ABC News Univision reports, Lake County, Ill. Sheriff Mark Curran, Jr. also spoke at the convention, sharing how he changed his anti-immigration stance after he spoke with members of the Catholic Church.
"The bottom line is that we have to do the right thing," he said. "It's morally the right thing."
Party members have warned the GOP consensus that the Nov. 6 election was a clear sign that Republicans must change their stance against immigration, especially after Latinos voted in favor of President Obama in record numbers.
"Maybe Mitt Romney losing might be a blessing in disguise," Brad Bailey, a Republican and Texas restaurateur who founded The Texas Immigration Solution, told ABC/Univision News.
Bailey had told media outlets following the election that Romney's rhetoric over immigration, including the promise of enforcing strict laws that would cause many immigrants to "self-deport" from the country, harmed his own campaign.
"Let's look at the problem, address the problem and look at the whole problem, and that's what Republicans want and Mitt Romney could've easily done that," Bailey said in November.