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January 29th, 2013
08:16 AM ET

Immigration Q&A: Amnesty or path to citizenship?

By Ted Barrett, Dana Bash and Deirdre Walsh, CNN

Washington (CNN) - A bipartisan group of senators on Monday introduced a plan for overhauling U.S. immigration policy a day before President Barack Obama was to lay out his plan.

Obama to pitch immigration reform

The eight senators say their plan will secure the border and provide a path to citizenship some undocumented immigrants already in the country.

Critics say the citizenship component is granting amnesty for those who entered the country illegally.

Here are some frequently asked questions on immigration reform:

Q: What's behind this latest immigration reform plan?

A: The new push for immigration reform follows devastating poll results for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who in November won just 27% of the Latino vote. That's down from 44% for President George W. Bush in 2004 and 31% for Sen. John McCain four years ago.

The dramatic slide jolted key Republicans to act quickly on the complex and emotional issue that has divided the parties for years.

Republicans long have argued that Latino voters, many of whom are Catholic and pro-life, would find a home in the GOP if not for the harsh rhetoric some Republicans use to debate illegal immigration.

Democrats also are under pressure to reach a deal. Many Latino voters were disappointed that President Barack Obama didn't work harder in his first term to pass a bill. Immediately after his election, Latino leaders pushed the president to make sure it would be a priority for his second term.

As a signal of how important the issue is for Senate Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced last week an immigration reform bill would be labeled S-1, meaning it's Senate bill No. 1 of the new Congress - and clearly a top priority.

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