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GOP Groups Urge Moderate Stance on Immigration

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Rubio has thrown his weight behind a broad-based approach to an overhaul of immigration laws.

In recent weeks, Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush have thrown their weight behind such a broad-based approach. Former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez has launched a super PAC dedicated to the cause, though it has yet to raise any funds, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Galvanized by the signs of Republican support, leaders from labor, law enforcement, civil rights and evangelical groups, among others, argue that a comprehensive immigration plan is a national imperative and that consensus is within reach. At a news conference in Washington last week, Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue echoed the White House’s warning that without a comprehensive package, some of the more controversial components of an overhaul could be left by the wayside. Donohue has been working with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka to resolve differences over how foreign workers can come to the U.S. for temporary employment, the major sticking point between the powerful business and labor lobbies.

Such budding alliances, and a growing army of Latino activists, are giving Hispanic advocacy groups clout with both parties. “Any position where both parties see you as discerning, as holding you accountable, is a good position,” said Clarissa Martinez de Castro, the director of immigration policy at the National Council of La Raza. “Doing something is the expectation. ... We believe that the people who work to get this done should get rewarded.”

While Congress is consumed by the sequester, gun policy and budget standoffs, the groups hope to spend the coming months lobbying lawmakers in Washington and in their districts.

The National Council of La Raza is bringing about 400 Latino activists to Capitol Hill on March 6. In the meantime, it is continuing voter registration efforts and in-district education. The AFL-CIO will soon unveil a national mobilization campaign in support of a pathway to citizenship, which it says is its top national priority for 2013.

On the right, activists such as Bailey and Cullen are working with conservative think tanks and others to try to convince GOP lawmakers that an immigration overhaul is a political imperative. “We can’t be the party of ‘we the few,’” Bailey said. “It must be ‘we the people.’”

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