Politics

Obama Moves to Push Immigration Reform Back into the Spotlight

President Obama is trying to put immigration reform back on the front burner as he plans a meeting with advocacy groups and key lawmakers this month and pledges his commitment to a fair and practical solution.

Part of passing comprehensive immigration reform requires finding a solution for the estimated 12 million people living in this country illegally. A Pew research poll shows 63 percent of Americans favor providing a way for illegal immigrants to gain citizenship if they pass background checks, pay fines and have jobs.

Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat and chairman of the Immigration Subcommittee, said the runway is clear.

"When the president asks me whether Congress can pass comprehensive immigration reform this session, I will smile and say, 'Mr. President, yes we can,'" he said.

After previous stumbling blocks, Schumer believes the outcome will be different this time around.

"Overwhelmingly people support a comprehensive solution," he said. "They want it to be real. They want it to be fair. But they do want a solution once and for all."

But lawmakers from both parties are saying they are short on time with health care and energy reform higher on the agenda.

"What is impacting doing comprehensive immigration reform is getting floor time to do it," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.

"Whether it was the proposal on taking over a health care system, a national energy tax and now somebody is going to suggest we're going to do immigration reform in the midst of all this? How much is enough?"

A key argument for Republicans to get on board with immigration reform is the Hispanic vote. Former President George Bush was competitive with John Kerry in 2004, but Latino voters supported Barack Obama by a wide margin over John McCain in 2008.

Mike Emanuel currently serves as chief congressional correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC). He joined FNC in 1997 as a Los Angeles-based correspondent.