Would immigration reform be a win for the GOP?

The conventional wisdom is that reform defuses the issue — but it might not translate into more Latino support for Republicans

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio was one of eight senators to unveil a bipartisan plan for immigration reform.
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

A bipartisan group of senators on Monday released a preliminary outline of a comprehensive immigration reform package, raising hopes among reform advocates that Republicans and Democrats can reach a deal to provide the country's 11 million undocumented immigrants with a path to citizenship. While many details need to be worked out, the proposal already has the tentative support of President Obama. "The president welcomes the efforts by the bipartisan group in the Senate," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, who went on to praise the fact that it "mirrors" immigration proposals that Obama made on the campaign trail.

The compromise represents a dramatic about-face for the GOP, whose 2012 nominee for president, Mitt Romney, ran to the right of his primary opponents on immigration and advocated a law-and-order-style crackdown that would encourage the undocumented to "self-deport." Many influential members of the conservative media have dropped their hardline stances and expressed support for the plan, largely in response to a targeted public relations campaign spearheaded by Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a rising star in the Republican Party.

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