Nov. 27, 2015 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Liberal Agenda Back on Deck

Even today, the White House is quietly hosting a reception for high-profile LGBT families, volunteers and activists to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Stonewall, the site of gay riots in 1969.

But while the gay community has been the focus of legislation and receptions, Latinos have gotten something bigger: a Latina nominee to the Supreme Court and a renewed pledge by Obama to act on comprehensive immigration reform in his first year in office.

Obama appeased immigration stakeholders last week when, during a meeting with key lawmakers, he pushed for wrapping up immigration reform this year. The president’s recommitment to the issue has rejuvenated Latino lawmakers who were starting to worry that their No. 1 issue would be edged out of the agenda.

“The president is sending a strong message that look, we have to lower the rhetoric. This is an emotional issue, but this is something that has to be done,” Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) said.

Velázquez said she will still press Obama “every day” to act on immigration reform. But for now, given his vow to move on the issue in 2009, Velázquez said her “laser focus is on the Senate” since Pelosi will wait for the Senate to act first.

The optimism felt in the meeting with Obama seemed to erase initial concerns felt by immigration stakeholders. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) left feeling “very optimistic”; Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) described the meeting as “a real shot in the arm.” Separately, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has put immigration reform on the Senate’s must-do list this year.

Obama’s message on immigration also seemed to translate into a renewed sense of bipartisanship. Velázquez praised past work on the issue by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), whom she said she recently met with in her office to discuss strategy.

“I think these two Senators have done so much work and they have been victims of their involvement on an issue where they understand the human aspect,” Velázquez said.

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