Obama may get GOP help on immigration

President Barack Obama speaks Sunday at the annual Veterans Day commemoration at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. Enlarge photo

Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

President Barack Obama speaks Sunday at the annual Veterans Day commemoration at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.

President Barack Obama has said an immigration deal may be possible after the election because Republicans would want to improve their position with Hispanic voters – and there are signs this may be happening.

Two prominent conservatives – radio host Sean Hannity and columnist Charles Krauthammer – advocate an immigration bill that would include tighter border security and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who are already here – i.e., something close to Obama’s position.

Their views could give cover to Republicans interested in a comprehensive immigration deal with the White House.

“If some people have criminal records, you can send them home,” Hannity said on his radio show. “But if people are here, law-abiding, participating for years, their kids are born here, you know, first secure the border, pathway to citizenship, done. You can’t let the problem continue – it’s got to stop.”

In years past, some Republicans have backed an enforcement-only policy, deporting all illegal immigrants.

Tuesday, Obama won more than 70 percent of the Latino vote against Mitt Romney – and Hispanics are the fastest-growing segment of the population.

In his weekly column for The Washington Post, Krauthammer says Republicans can appeal to Hispanics with “a single policy change: Border fence plus amnesty.

“Yes, amnesty,” he says. “Use the word. Shock and awe – full legal normalization (just short of citizenship) in return for full border enforcement.”

He writes, “I’ve always been of the ‘enforcement first’ school, with the subsequent promise of legalization. I still think it’s the better policy. But many Hispanics fear that there will be nothing beyond enforcement. So, promise amnesty right up front. Secure the border with guaranteed legalization to follow on the day the four border-state governors affirm that illegal immigration has slowed to a trickle.”

The growing power of the Hispanic vote is changing the immigration debate – something to keep an eye on in Obama’s second term.

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