Dickerson: GOP wants a deal on immigration
(CBS News) A bipartisan group of key senators have reached a deal on the principles of legislation to rewrite U.S. immigration laws. Set to be announced Monday afternoon, the deal is expected to be endorsed by eight Republican and Democratic senators and President Obama plans to travel to Nevada on Tuesday to go into detail about the potential legislative overhaul.
CBS News political director John Dickerson said the deal is likely as much about Obama's commitment to comprehensive immigration legislation as it is about Republicans coming to terms with the need to court Hispanic voters.
"Republican strategists for a long time," Dickerson said, citing strategists like Karl Rove and Mike Murphy, "said that the Republican party cannot survive if it doesn't find an inroad to Hispanic voters."
After the November presidential election -- in which Republican nominee Mitt Romney received only 27 percent of the Hispanic vote, the lowest in over a decade -- a lot of the Republican party's "loud voices have come on board with this idea," Dickerson explained.
"The election results have spoken ... you have a moment here where both parties are anxious to seize it," he added.
And while Congress has been characterized by legislative gridlock in recent months, Dickerson said that "while you have to be skeptical about progress," the common ideological ground could lead to successful immigration legislation.
"You do have Republicans who want a deal here ... Now, the question is on the details," he explained. "The key one to watch is, why won't this be like the immigration process in the past, say the one Reagan passed?"
"The worry there is that you get what these Republicans would call 'amnesty' but then you get no enforcement ... you get the politically beneficial part -- the part that allows these undocumented workers to come in out of the shadows -- but then you don't enforce the border measures that keep more people from coming in," Dickerson said, explaining a likely concern for the GOP.
Dickerson acknowledged that momentum on the issue of immigration is due in part to the Republican party's need for new outreach before the 2016 election, he said there is also a strong "economic imperative" for immigration reform within the business community as well as a "a moral reason as well." "It's part of the American fabric," Dickerson said. "We are a nation of immigrants."
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