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State and Nation

January 29, 2013

Obama launches push for immigration overhaul



WASHINGTON (AP) — Seeking swift action on immigration, President Barack Obama on Tuesday will try to rally public support behind his proposals for giving millions of illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship, as well as making improvements to the legal immigration system and border security.

The president will launch his push in a campaign-style event in Las Vegas, a day after a bipartisan group of senators unveiled their own plan for addressing an issue that has languished in Washington for years.

Administration officials said Obama would largely endorse the senators' efforts, though immigration advocates said they expected the president's own proposals to be more progressive than the Senate group's plan, including a faster pathway to citizenship.

The simultaneous immigration campaigns were spurred by the November presidential election, in which Obama won an overwhelming majority of Hispanic voters. The results caused Republican lawmakers who had previously opposed immigration reform to reconsider in order to rebuild the party's reputation among Hispanics, an increasingly powerful political force.

Most of the recommendations Obama will make Tuesday are not new. He outlined an immigration blueprint in May 2011 but exerted little political capital to get it passed by Congress, to the disappointment of many Hispanics.

Obama "believes that we are at a moment now where there seems to be support coalescing at a bipartisan level behind the very principles that he has long put forward and behind principles that have in the past enjoyed bipartisan support," White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday. "And that is a very positive thing."

The president was to make his pitch in Nevada, a political battleground he carried in November, in large part because of support from Hispanics in the state.

Nationally, Obama won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote, giving him a key advantage over Republican rival Mitt Romney.

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