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White House, senators launching immigration push

  • FILE - In this Jan. 14, 2013 file photo, President Barack Obama gestures speaks during his final news conference of his first term in the East Room of the White House in Washington. President Barack Obama's fledgling second term agenda so far reads like a progressive wish list. In less than a week, he's vowed to tackle climate change, expand gay rights and protect government entitlements. His administration lifted a ban on women in combat and expanded opportunities for disabled students. Proposals for stricter gun laws have already been unveiled and plans for comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants, are coming soon. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will launch a campaign next week aimed at overhauling the nation's flawed immigration system and creating legal status for millions, as a bipartisan Senate group nears agreement on achieving the same goals.

The proposals from Obama and lawmakers will mark the start of what is expected to be a contentious and emotional process with deep political implications. Latino voters overwhelmingly backed Obama in the 2012 election, leaving Republicans grappling for a way to regain their standing with an increasingly powerful pool of voters.

The president will press his case for immigration changes during a trip to Las Vegas Tuesday. The Senate working group is also aiming to outline its proposals next week, according to a Senate aide.

Administration officials say Obama's second-term immigration push will be a continuation of the principles he outlined during his first four years in office but failed to act on. He is expected to revive his little-noticed 2011 immigration "blueprint," which calls for a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants that includes paying fines and back taxes; increased border security; mandatory penalties for businesses that employ unauthorized immigrants; and improvements to the legal immigration system, including giving green cards to high-skilled workers and lifting caps on legal immigration for the immediate family members of U.S. citizens.

"What has been absent in the time since he put those principles forward has been a willingness by Republicans, generally speaking, to move forward with comprehensive immigration reform," White House press secretary Jay Carney said. "What he hopes is that that dynamic has changed."


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