By I-Hsien Sherwood | ( | First Posted: Nov 13, 2012 07:09 PM EST

Former U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez speaks at the Commerce Department in Washington June 24, 2008 (Photo : Reuters)

Mitt Romney's top advisor on Hispanic issues today called for Republicans to embrace immigration reform as a way to win back some of the Latino vote.

"We need to modernize. Modernization includes diversity. Obviously immigration reform is part of that process of diversity. We are the party of growth, of business, of entrepreneurship, of innovation. We cannot continue to be that without an effective immigration policy," said Carlos Gutierrez, who headed Romney's Hispanic Steering Committee.

But in the wake of the Republicans' disastrous showing among Latino voters in Tuesday's election, President Obama may be pressing ahead with immigration reform, despite Republican objections.

If he does, he'll be fulfilling a campaign promise he made back in 2008.

Amidst strong Republican opposition, Obama wasn't able to make much headway on the issue in his first term. While the DREAM Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children, languishes in Congress, Obama has been able to implement a deportation deferment program.

The program provides work permits to the same immigrants targeted by the DREAM Act, and prevents their deportation for two years, after which they can reapply for another deferment.

During the campaign, Mitt Romney vowed to end the program if he was elected.

That won't happen now, but many Latinos are angry that the overall deportation rate actually increased during Obama's first term.

Still, Latino voters believe the Democrats are more likely to pass immigrant-friendly legislation. Nationwide, Obama received 71 percent of the Latino vote, up from 68 percent in 2008, providing him victories in swing states like Nevada, Colorado and Florida.

Even Cuban-Americans in Florida, a traditional GOP voting bloc, split their vote between the parties.

There are signs that the Republicans may be ready to compromise.

Today, a group of evangelical Christians released a statement calling for immigration reform. "This is the 21st century, and our immigration laws are from the 20th century," said Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals. "It's time to move on."

The Republican establishment might agree. "This issue has been around far too long," said Republican House Speaker John Boehner, in an interview with ABC News.

"I'm confident that the president, myself, others, can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all," he said.

Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham are reportedly working on compromise measures.

"Senator Graham and I have talked and we are resuming the talks that were broken off two years ago," said Schumer on "Meet the Press."

"We had put together a comprehensive, detailed blueprint on immigration reform. It had the real potential for bipartisan support based on the theory that most Americans are for legal immigration but very much against illegal immigration," he said.

"Graham and I are talking to our colleagues about this right now, and I think we have a darn good chance using this blueprint to get something done this year," Schumer added.

"The Republican Party has learned that being anti-illegal and anti-immigrant doesn't work for them politically and they know it."

Still, some Republicans are worried. Representative John Fleming of Louisiana had this to say about Boehner's willingness to deal:

"There's been zero discussion of this issue within the conference, and I'm urging the Speaker to talk with House Republicans before making pledges on the national news. The first thing we need is for President Obama to finally enforce current immigration law and strengthen our borders. To take up any other agenda is bad policy for the American people and bad politics for Republicans. The Speaker needs to pull back on this issue and stop negotiating in public."

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