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Republicans Take “Go Slow” Approach To Immigration Reform

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President Barack Obama’s new declaration that he’s open to legal status for many immigrants short of citizenship sounds a lot like House Speaker John Boehner and other GOP leaders, an election-year compromise that numerous Republicans as well as Democrats crave.

But the drive for the first overhaul in three decades still faces major resistance from many Republicans who are wary that the divisive issue could derail what they see as a smooth glide path to winning November’s congressional elections. And they deeply distrust the Democratic president to enforce the law.

Just hours after Boehner pitched immigration to the GOP at a Maryland retreat, Obama suddenly indicated he would be open to legal status for many of the 11 million living here illegally, dropping his once-ironclad insistence on a special path to citizenship.

Democrats, including Obama, and other immigration proponents have warned repeatedly about the creation of a two-tier class system.

“If the speaker proposes something that says right away, folks aren’t being deported, families aren’t being separated, we’re able to attract top young students to provide the skills or start businesses here, and then there’s a regular process of citizenship, I’m not sure how wide the divide ends up being,” Obama said in a CNN interview that was recorded Thursday and aired Friday.

Obama’s flexibility is a clear indication of the president’s desire to secure an elusive legislative achievement before voters decide whether to hand him even more opposition in Congress. Republicans are expected to maintain their grip on the House and have a legitimate shot at grabbing the majority in the Senate.

“I’m going to do everything I can in the coming months to see if we can get this over the finish line,” Obama said Friday of an immigration overhaul in a Google Plus Hangout talk. (Associated Press)

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