Republicans on Capitol Hill Eye Immigration Reform to Win Back Latino Voters

Republicans look to move immigration agenda forward on the Hill in order to appeal to Latino voters.

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Before President Barack Obama won 71 percent of the Latino vote on Election Day, Brad Bailey says Republicans on Capitol Hill were not always receptive to his message that the GOP urgently needed to make comprehensive immigration reform a priority.

"I think the election woke a lot of people up," says Bailey, CEO of Texas Immigration Solution, a group that promotes solutions to immigration issues. "We are talking to people now who never talked to us before in D.C."

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Latinos make up the fastest growing constituency in the country with more than 50,000 Hispanic Americans turning 18 every month. The group has increased by 43 percent from the 2000 census to the 2010 one and Republicans are quickly realizing that it's a growing constituency they cannot ignore.

"If we continue to lose 71 percent as we did in this election of the fastest growing demographic in American, which is the Hispanic community, and lose 93 percent of the African Americans forever and more than 60 percent of people under 30, we become the dinosaur party," South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham said on Christian Radio Network.

Graham says the Republican Party must cut back on rhetoric and propel itself into legislative action to win back Latinos.

"A lot of Hispanics believe that we hate them," Graham said. "I don't. I hate illegal immigration as a national, American problem, and I want to fix it. I don't hate Hispanics. But if you are going to listen to some of the debates out there and the way it is being presented, you'd think it is more about their last name than [about] broken immigration."

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During the primary, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, in his quest to win the nomination and shore up his base, infamously said he supported making conditions so deplorable for illegal immigrants that they would have to "self deport."

"The answer is self deportation, which is people decide they can do better by going home because they can't find work here because they don't have legal documentation to allow them to work here," Romney said.

But the GOP stance is quickly softening. Graham is among many lawmakers on the Hill who have even floated amnesty as a partial solution to a more comprehensive immigration bill.

"We secure that border, we control who gets a job in American, we get a temporary worker program that will keep us economically strong," Graham said. "Then we turn to the 12 million and say, 'Come out of the shadows.'… I am willing to be firm, but fair to the 12 million."

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul has also spoken out in favor of comprehensive immigration reform.

"We're getting an ever-dwindling percent of the Hispanic vote, Paul told ABC News. "We have to let people know, Hispanics in particular, we're not putting you on a bus and shipping you home."

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No legislation is expected to take form until after the so-called fiscal cliff is put to rest and a new Congress is sworn in, but immigration reform is a top priority behind closed doors for the GOP caucus. Graham and New York Democrat Charles Schumer announced earlier this week they are teaming up to get the ball moving on a plan that would create a temporary work program, secure the border, and provide a way for some immigrants who came to the United States illegally to stay. And Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio will likely unveil his own version of the DREAM Act after the new year.

Even Speaker John Boehner has said publicly that immigration reform is on his agenda for 2013.

"It's time to get the job done," Boehner said.

And there will be a financial incentive to make immigration reform a priority on Capitol Hill. Republican strategists Carlos Gutierrez and Charles Spies launched a new Super PAC this week, which will incentivize leaders in Congress to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform.