New Supporters Help Juice Immigration Reform Negotiations

Republicans and Democrats voice support for an immigration resolution.

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New groups are emerging to support immigration reform as lawmakers march toward unveiling their bipartisan proposals in the next few weeks. The smaller add-ons join the current players, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AFL-CIO, as well as longtime pro-immigration reform groups, and are helping build momentum for a resolution.

[SEE: Political Cartoons on Immigration]

The National Federation of Republican Women announced Tuesday it passed a resolution calling on Republicans to lead the reform effort and "create sensible solutions to repair the broken U.S. immigration system."

"Border security and enforcement will be crucial components of reform but we also recognize the need for reforms that will help our businesses grow and address the millions of children that grow up in our country as Americans but find the door closed to them when they become adults," said Lisa Roper, NFRW regional vice president, in a press release.

The Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank in Washington, D.C., recently hosted a panel of LGBT advocates supportive of comprehensive immigration reform. According to a new report, more than 250,000 of the estimated 11 million undocumented people in the United States are gay.

"In 21st-century American politics, diversity is destiny. Ignore it at your peril," said Jose Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and founder of Define America, a pro-immigration reform group.

"You don't have to be gay to care about gay issues; you don't have to be undocumented to care about undocumented issues."

Vargas has been touring the country speaking about his experience as a gay undocumented individual.

The push for reform since the 2012 election has been bipartisan, with newly enthusiastic Republicans joining longtime advocate Democrats following the Republicans' lopsided defeat among Hispanic voters at the polls.

[READ: Evangelicals Could Be Key to GOP Immigration Push]

A group of eight senators—four Democrats and four Republicans—has been meeting in recent weeks to put together legislation that could muster enough support for passage. A bipartisan group of House members has also been meeting in hopes of brokering its own version, which insiders say will likely differ from the Senate measure. Both groups may unveil their proposals in early April, according to a report in Roll Call.

The biggest potential sticking point is how to cope with the illegal immigrants currently in the United States, specifically how to allow them to reach legal status by paying back taxes and fines without incentivizing future illegal immigration.

In the past, Republicans have staunchly opposed allowing a path for citizenship—Mitt Romney famously called for the 11 million to "self deport" during a Republican presidential debate in 2012—while Democrats have long sought amnesty.

And while outsides observers as skeptical that the House, which is controlled by Republicans, is prepared to pass comprehensive immigration reform, one member of GOP leadership recently waxed optimistic.

"I wouldn't underestimate the House's ability to pass the immigration bill," House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, said Sunday on CNN's State of the Union. "I think we have plenty of ideas on that, and I think there's an opportunity that we can move the ball as well."

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