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Irish President Visits City Hall, Talks Immigration With Mayor

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The President of Ireland stopped by City Hall to exchange pleasantries and some frank talk with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports Irish President Michael Higgins is visiting the Midwest through Tuesday. A graduate of Indiana University, he will deliver the commencement address at the school's graduation ceremonies in Bloomington on Saturday.

Higgins also planned a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago, and he discussed cultural affairs with Emanuel while at City Hall. The two also talked about comprehensive immigration reform, which Emanuel has predicted will be approved by Congress by the end of the year.

"I'm obviously concerned for – whatever the figure is, be it 50,000 or whatever in the United States – people who have particular difficulties; difficulties that we were able to discuss in a very human way that affect families and that affect mobility," Higgins said.

President Of Ireland Touring Midwest

The mayor assured Higgins there are strong moves underway to fix a broken immigration system.

A day earlier, Emanuel and U.S. Rep. Gutierrez (D-Illinois) – a leader on immigration reform efforts in Congress – predicted passage of an immigration reform plan this year.

Gutierrez said there are 218 votes in the House, including 25 to 30 Republicans, in support of comprehensive immigration reform, and all Speaker John Boehner needs to do is call a vote.

"I wake up every morning believing that it is possible, and that it's going to happen, and that the day I don't believe it, I should really quit," Gutierrez said. "Despair and hope, they cost the same, right? Except how easily we go to despair."

The Senate passed immigration reform legislation last year. That measure would provide a path to citizenship for approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S. The legislation also would increase border security, and add systems to track whether foreign nationals overstay their visas.

The mayor has said, if the House doesn't act on the plan this year, he believes President Barack Obama will take executive action to change some immigration policies.

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