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Immigration reform: White House says promised push begins next week

Obama met Friday with seven members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to discuss strategy and policy for the coming debate on immigration reform, a major campaign promise.

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In the House, Rep. Raul Labrador (R) of Idaho told reporters that he met with colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee this week to discuss immigration reform proposals. Representative Labrador, who worked as an immigration lawyer for more than a decade, does not favor a path to citizenship for most unauthorized immigrants.

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A bipartisan group of eight senators is reportedly close to a deal on comprehensive reform measures and could announce a proposal as soon as next Friday, according to several reports.

What could the president’s proposal look like? The legislative principles put forward by the CHC in November are “in line” with what the president wants, according to a release from Representative Gutierrez’s office.

Those include measures to reduce backlogs for immigration of the spouses and children of US citizens; retain high-skilled graduates of American universities in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields; provide special considerations, including a route to citizenship, for young illegal immigrants known as DREAMers; and a program to provide workers for the nation’s agriculture industry.

The CHC’s proposals also call for providing workplace protections for immigrant workers; “smart and reasonable” border protection; creation of a citizenship verification system in the workplace, and “ensure all workers pay their fair share of taxes, fully integrate into our way of life, and bear the same responsibilities as all Americans.”

While immigration reform was a key Obama campaign promise before his first term, the president failed to make good on that vow during the last four years. Immigrant advocates have frequently criticized the president for his immigration policy during his first term, which saw a record number of deportations and little legislative or political muscle put behind immigration initiatives until the president offered temporary relief for young undocumented immigrants during the heat of the 2012 campaign.

On Friday, the White House noted that immigration reform was "a top legislative priority."

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