Feb. 7, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Schumer Looking at Immigration

“Obama has done a very good job of intertwining health care with the economy ... and I just don’t think they can do that with immigration,” a GOP leadership aide said. Without that linkage and the attendant sense of urgency it creates, Republicans would feel much more comfortable taking a more protectionist, anti-comprehensive reform stance, the aide said, particularly given the Conference’s strong conservative streak.

Republicans would likely counter a major immigration push with a populist argument of “you should be focused on helping Americans first,” the leadership aide said, adding that “it’s a no-brainer for our Conference.”

That tactic would carry potentially serious drawbacks for Republicans, who are struggling to maintain a foothold with Latino voters. Recent polls have shown that immigration is a top priority for Latinos regardless of their legal status, and Republicans could end up doing themselves more harm than good in the end, warned Mario Lopez, president of the Republican-leaning Hispanic Leadership Fund.

Lopez, who said it remains unclear whether the administration will ultimately take up the issue in earnest, urged Republicans to rethink their position on immigration.

“There are opportunities for Republicans to do well” with the issue, Lopez argued, adding, “The caveat is that they have to be willing to take a fresh look at the issue and especially the rhetoric.”

Anna Palmer contributed to this report.

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