President Obama may announce details of a new push for comprehensive immigration reform when he delivers the first State of the Union address of his second term on Feb. 12, Lincoln's birthday.
A bipartisan group of U.S. senators, led by Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has been trading ideas on how to reform the broken system for months, and the likelihood of a compromise bill has grown greater.
Despite looming battles with Congress over the budget, debt ceiling and gun control, President Obama has insisted he still wants to tackle immigration reform early in his first term.
The plan gaining momentum in the Senate includes four important provisions: enhanced border security, counterfeit-proof immigration documents, expanded legal immigration for skilled immigrants, and a path to citizenship for those already in the U.S. that includes some tough requirements, such as learning English and paying fees and taxes.
Strangely enough, it could actually be easier now for Congress members to unite over immigration reform than budgetary matters. And Obama could jump-start the process by announcing the reform effort during the State of the Union. Wouldn't it be appropriate that the announcement that would help free 11 million illegal immigrants should come on Lincoln's birthday?
Sen. Rubio wants to repair Republicans' relationship with Hispanics after the drubbing the party took at the polls in November. He supports reforming the immigration system in increments, rather than taking a comprehensive approach. Rubio has offered a plan that would allow illegal immigrants temporary legal status from which they could eventually apply for permanent residency.